This week will mostly be about Scotland. So, for a bit of geographical variety, here’s a piece about our capital city inspired by a new report – London’s Hollow Promise – from the Centre for London.
The report launches this week, but Jamie Doward previews it in the Observer:
“If for London the 1980s was the decade of yuppies, now the capital finds itself home to the ‘endies’ – Employed but with No Disposable Income or Savings.
“Feeling unloved, overworked and ignored, endies are becoming disillusioned with their lot, according to a report from the Centre for London that suggests there are now about a million modest earners in the capital.”
It should be required reading for all Conservatives who see London as the new New Jerusalem, the model for everything that Britain should become. And, indeed, London is a wonder – a global city that can shrug off the prospect of Scottish independence because it isn’t just the capital of the United Kingdom, but of the world.
Inner London is by far the richest region in the European Union, beating even Luxembourg. At the same time, and very much unlike Luxembourg, it is a place of astonishing cultural diversity. London is enthroned at the intersection of economic and social liberalism – a triumphant vindication of both.
Or, at least, that’s how the advocates of cosmopolitan conservatism would see it. Never mind the UKIP-y bits of Britain, they say, London is the future.
Except that London doesn’t seem nearly so keen on the Conservative Party – despite almost a decade of detoxification under David Cameron. The cosmo-cons have an answer to that, which is that we need to double-down on the economic and social liberalism (for instance, by embracing mass immigration).
Liberalism, however, doesn’t solve the real London problem – which is that while London as an economic entity is doing very well, the same doesn’t apply to ordinary working Londoners:
“The report claims that low- to middle-income workers have been hit hard in the capital because rents are around 50% higher than in the rest of the UK. For households with incomes between £20,800 and £28,500 a year, rental costs have risen 4% in real terms over the last decade. Rent now accounts for about 41% of their incomes.
“It warns that ‘endies’ who do not own a home have almost no chance of buying one. ‘There are now only three boroughs – Tower Hamlets, Newham and Barking and Dagenham – where home ownership is potentially affordable for two people earning that borough’s median wage,’ the report says.”
Obviously, London isn’t the only place where people on modest incomes are finding it hard to get on to the property ladder or build up their savings. That said, London has a way of really rubbing your nose in it – as noted by the report’s author, Charles Leadbetter:
“’Zone 1 inside the Circle Line will become like Dubai. It will be inhabited only by cosmopolitan people who come to London to spend money.’
“Leadbeater, a former adviser to Tony Blair, warned that there would be ‘a political price’ to pay unless the needs of endies were addressed and a new generation of well-designed affordable homes in good quality neighbourhoods were created.”
When it comes to the long-term development of the electoral landscape, the cosmo-cons are correct that the demographic momentum is not with UKIP-voting pensioners in places like Clacton, but with younger, more liberally-inclined voters in London and other economic hubs.
However, if the latter also feel excluded from a full share in Britain’s future, then they won’t be voting Conservative either.