Ill feeling towards London is only going to get worse
by Ben Rogers
London can't go on like this. With the latest city banking scandal dominating the headlines, it needs to do more to understand how the rest of the country views it, and it needs to do much more to demonstrate that it is going out of its way to ensure that the rest of the UK benefits from London’s standing as a world city.
The UK already has the greatest regional inequalities of any European country, and the city has long been viewed with deep misgivings through much of the country. Last month a Northern Labour MP told me that it was 'hard to over-estimate the resentment' his constituents feel towards the capital.
Everything suggests that public ill feeling towards London is only going to get worse. In the short term the Libor scandal is likely to confirm many people's dim view of the city, which many people outside the capital equate with it. The Olympics won't help matters either. The further you are from the capital, the more likely you are to say that the games have been a waste of money.
In the longer run, as a fascinating new McKinsey report argues, London is well positioned to retain its place as a leading global city, and will probably continue to pull ahead of the rest of the UK and much of Europe. Yes, other cities will grow and compete with London, but the metropolis is well positioned to benefit from the continued expansion of the world’s economy, with a billion people entering the ‘consuming class’, between now and 2025.
Of course you can argue, as last week's Economist London supplement does, that London is the best thing that that the UK has going for it - without it, the whole country would be poorer. But it just comes across as a boast.
The capital does almost nothing positive to demonstrate its commitment to the rest of the UK. It has an agency dedicated to selling itself to the rest of the world – London and Partners - but makes no effort to sell itself to the regions.
Once the Olympics are behind us, that has to change.