Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A Tale of Two Cities

Travel from Glasgow to London - it only takes a few hours - and you experience the strange governance of the British Isles.

In rainy, blustery, Glasgow people were leaving their homes as I headed to Central Station for the train south. Homes where the average rent according to Home.co.uk is £634 per month.

In London people were talking about house prices. Not surprising - in south west London rents are now averaging £2,373, almost four times as much as in Glasgow. Purchase prices are more dramatically different: average purchase price for a home in Glasgow is 10 times the figure for a semi-detached home in south west London.

Friends told of how their son, on a decent graduate wage, cannot afford to live anywhere in London, of property developers selling 25 square metre micro-flats for prices in the hundreds of thousands of pounds as a "first step on the property ladder." I heard people discussing the property boom brought on by Crossrail.

How do you govern this economically bipolar country from a gilded parliament surrounded by homes whose average value - £1.4m* - has risen by 250% in the last 10 years?

The answer, of course, is that you don't. You focus on the nearby - on the City of London, on the Home Counties, on the safe neighbourhoods. Which then makes it easy to dream up a scheme like Osbameron's tax credits wheeze.

House prices are a thermometer under the tongue of the British economy - an economy now utterly divided into London and the rest. There is no way that Westminster can unite this Queendom.

* Source: http://www.home.co.uk/guides/asking_prices_report.htm?county=londonsw&all=1 prices for semi detached homes in London SW.

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