Tuesday, 21 July 2015

May London Flourish

The City of London is a building site. Walking through its courts and its lanes means navigating scaffolding, concrete blocks and cement lorries. Wobbling to work on their high heels and pencil skirts or their brogues and pinstripes, City staff divert from pavement to pavement to avoid the construction sites.

London is booming, and not just in new buildings. House prices are up (did they ever fall?) along with the salaries of its bankers, lawyers and investment managers. It is the centre for research and development, for arts and culture, for earning and spending, for broadcasting and education. London is a global mega-city, a Tokyo on the Thames.

For Scotland, London is the big business opportunity. A few hours away by train, speaking the same language (or something like it), and with a rampant consumer culture for the speciality foods that Scotland produces, London is open for business. Scottish firms are selling everything from architecture to whisky to the London market.

Long may London, the global mega-city, flourish.

London's governance - à la Boris Johnson - is about letting the free market rip along, with only the tiny inconvenience of the Congestion Charge. It is laissez-faire governance,  neoliberalism. The priorities of a global mega-city are cast in the same mould; yes, let's pack a new runway into the world's busiest airport to make it even busier (to hell with the Green Belt).

Neoliberalism is the philosophy of the global mega-city, competing for favoured investments amongst the banks and finance houses of the world. New York? Tokyo? Rio? Sydney? Nah, let's go to London. They will let us pay taxes in the Netherlands Antilles while we work in Blackfriars. London needs neoliberalism or it will be overtaken, God forfend, by Frankfurt or Geneva. London is a vortex, a Death Eater that sucks the wealth, and the spirit, from everything around it.

Westminster is in London, and Westminster shares London's dominant political philosophy, the economic neoliberalism that is the accepted paradigm of Tories, Labour and Liberals.

But the governance required for a global mega-city is very, very different from that required for the hills, glens, lochs (and cities) of Scotland. The people of Scotland - not just in the last General Election but for years before - have shown that they want other values to predominate. The people of Scotland have consistently voted for parties that propose a different model of society, one which cares for its people, which pays for the education of its young people, which helps its old-folk.

Which is why Scotland needs its own Government. We simply cannot have that fascinating, greedy, consumptive neoliberal culture imposed on us any longer. We need out, now. Because the longer we stay glued to Osbameron's nasty neoliberalism, the poorer, weaker, sicker we will get.

It is time. We must now grow our own Flower of Scotland. And may London (and its parish parliament in Westminster) flourish.

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