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Thu Dec 24, 2015, 08:11 AM

London must stop sucking up cash from the rest of Britain

Britain’s capital city is becoming a spoiled brat. It is stupendously rich. It sucks population out of the rest of the country and then whinges when this drives up house prices. Now at Christmas, it demands the kind of baubles you would expect of an Arab princeling or a banana republic.


It is London not the provinces that is drunkenly dependent on public money. The latest figure for infrastructure spending on each Londoner is £5,500 a year, against Yorkshire’s £580 a head and the north-east’s £220. Not surprisingly, in the last three years London has grown three times faster than the north. Between 2010 and 2012 the capital added 216,000 more private sector jobs while Bradford, Blackpool and even Glasgow lost them. Vince Cable was right in calling London “a giant suction machine draining the life out of the rest of the country”.

This cannot be in the capital’s interest. Walk around parts of north Manchester, South Yorkshire or Teesside and you could still be in cold war eastern Europe. These places are economically destitute, dependent on taxes paid overwhelmingly in London and the south-east. By keeping them deprived, London keeps them parasitic and in its pay. Yet the capital never stops lobbying for more public money directed at its own interests.


The capital does not need more bridges, concert halls, railways, football grounds, galleries or artworks. They should be shared. The city claims to be the richest and most exciting on Earth, in which case it can show magnanimity. Besides, it’s Christmas.


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