Saturday, 26 December 2009

One Nation?

Particularly in high summer and in deep winter, the weather doesn't really vary all that much around this country. When it is hot, then it is hotter for longer in the South than in the North. But it is still hot in the North. When it snows, then it snows more in the North of Scotland than in the North of England, and more in the North of England than in the South. But it always does snow in the South, at the same time as everywhere else. Yet year on year, the whole thing is regarded as a freak occurrence, both reported by the media and treated by the authorities as if it were a once-in-a-lifetime national emergency. Of course, we just laugh up here. But should we?

The South, especially the South East, has a permanent belief that it is Britain's economic powerhouse, yet in fact almost nothing has been made there for decades. That those with complicated tax avoidance arrangements are able to go into London with ease in order to move money around while stealing great wads of it, is only because Dr Beeching's own caste was exempted from his vandalism and permitted to retain a lavish public transport network at enormous cost to the taxpaying rest of us.

And when their incompetence and criminality create a situation in which they might have to live on their gargantuan independent incomes alone (since these are not people who ever needed jobs, but people whose greed could not be sated by their eye-watering inheritances), or in which they might even become so poor that they may have to pay income tax, then what do they get? Everyone else gets Job Seeker's Allowance because of them. But there is none of that for the people to blame.

As when they want a war, the money that is not available for public services, or for the relief of poverty, or to rescue things of real economic and social value, is suddenly found from somewhere or other, indeed from anywhere at all. Does anyone go into the City on a daily basis these days, other than to the many lovely old churches or to the Smithfield meat market? If so, why? In order to maintain their lifestyle, they no longer have any need to pretend to work. So why bother?

The utter conviction that this is their absolute entitlement is essentially the same as the utter conviction that the South has a tropical climate, any departure from which almost never happens, is wholly unpredictable when it does, and is at least as bad as the Blitz or the Black Death ever was, if not worse. We laugh at them every year. But should we?


  1. Um yeah, cos everyone in London is a millionaire aren't they? There's no council homes or delivery drivers or shop workers at all, everyone just moves money about on a screen...

  2. By and large, those people don't live in London itself, where, as you say, there is a lot of council housing and so forth. But that would be whole other post.

    Of course, London likes to portray itself, especially to the North, as full of millionaires. But that would be a whole other post again.

  3. I'm fascinated by the North's obsession with the South. We just don't think about you.

  4. If anything it's the other way around. Try convincing people from London, especially, that large numbers of people in the North have not just hardly or never been there, but do not feel their lives at all impoverished as a consequence.

    We do, of course, pay for you, picking up the tab for your lavish public transport network, your bailouts, and your pointless Olympics, and to cover the back of whichever figure unimaginable elsewhere has been installed in the absurd position of Mayor of London.

    And we are forced to listen to minutely detailed coverage of your unremarkable weather, and of your complete inability to cope with it, as the main news on any given day for about a quarter of the year.

  5. Funny you should say that, Anon 17:17. David has been taken to task on here in the past for daring to suggest that the South was insular and ignorant of the rest of the country.

  6. Oh, it can have its uses. Just ask Tony Blair.

    Half Scots and a quarter Scots-Irish, he was born in Edinburgh and, apart from a brief and very early spell in Australia, he neither lived nor was educated anywhere but there and in Durham until Oxford, after which he gravitated to London as people do after Oxbridge.

    However, at 30 he was back in County Durham as an MP, married to a Scouser. Despite seeming to be quintessential figures of the metropolitan upper middle class, his two sons were first-time voters in Trimdon, just outside Durham, rather than in London last time. His house there has not been sold. There can be little doubt as to where he eventually intends to retire and to die.

    Yet huge numbers of people in the South East were convinced that he was somehow one of them, and many of them still are. All because he did not fit their ridiculous stereotype of what either a Scot or a Northerner should be like.

  7. You are very good at playing that game yourself.

    Anyhow, Blair, Durham Cathedral's First Requiem Mass since the Reformation, what do you reckon?

  8. More likely than not, I'd say. But even if his funeral is in London, he won't be buried within three hundred miles of the place. Any more than I will be. It would just be unnatural.

    New Labour's mistreatment of the North, and perhaps above all of the North East, would be more understandable if it really were the Scottish-Southern coalition that is often asserted. But it isn't. Not entirely. Very far from entirely.

    Ah, yes, playing the game. Do people from the South think that all our professionals commute from Surrey every day? Or do they simply assume that we don't have any? Which brings us back to New Labour, with its inbuilt insistence that while people from the North who were already in by 1997 may be capable of being MPs, no one else from here is, so that the Miliband brothers have to be imposed on South Shields and on Doncaster North, Pontefract & Castleford gets Yvette Cooper while neighbouring Normanton gets Ed Balls, and so on. And on, and on, and on.

    North West Durham, seize your chance to insist on something better. Who realises that, with his County Durham connections, Blair was in fact a more local candidate than Les Huckfield, and that that was in no small measure why he won?

  9. The hunting ban is a north/south thing. Because hunting is a toffs thing in the south, Islington type Labour MPs hate it, banned it and want to keep it banned. They don't know that its a classless or working class thing in the north. Like you say that includes the ones who are imposed MPs for Labour seats here. Hilary Armstrong, County Durham to her marrow, voted against a total ban while Chief Whip.

  10. Indeed she did, much to her credit.

    For the moment, let us leave aside those chumps who voted for the Iraq War in return for a ban on foxhunting.

    The Tories think that are onto a winner with foxhunting, and the hunting lobby seems to think that it is onto a winner with the Tories. But there were Commons majorities to ban hunting in the Major years.

    And hunting's heartlands are Yorkshire, Wales, the Midlands, Devon and Cornwall, which return few or (in the Cornish case) no Tory MPs, and have now done so for three successive General Elections.

    What you say about class and hunting in the North (and Wales) compared to the South also applies to cricket, oddly enough.

  11. "We do, of course, pay for you, picking up the tab for your lavish public transport network, your bailouts, and your pointless Olympics, and to cover the back of whichever figure unimaginable elsewhere has been installed in the absurd position of Mayor of London."

    Seeing as public spending is higher in the North than the South I'm not sure how you calculate that. For the record I opposed the bank bailout and the Olympics.

  12. Yer what?!?

    Where is our bailout? Where is our Tube, or our Crossrail, or our Network South East? Where are our Olympics? And how many of us are tax-avoiders?

  13. "Where is our bailout? Where is our Tube, or our Crossrail, or our Network South East? Where are our Olympics? And how many of us are tax-avoiders?"

    Public spending in the South East is only around 34% of GDP. Up North it reaches Swedish proportions.

  14. That doesn't answer the point, particularly about the level of tax avoidance on the part of those bailed out, who are, among other things, publicly transported almost from door to door at all hours of day and night.

    You people are leeches on what little of the real economy you have permitted to continue to exist, which exists elsewhere. Not everyone in the South, but certainly you, or you wouldn't come on here saying these things.

    Plenty of people in the South can't stand you, either. You have wildly inflated the price of absolutely everything there. And now even more than ever, you are doing so directly at the expense of your victims, who pay the taxes that you not only avoid, but are kept out of the public purse rich enough to avoid.

  15. Southern Rural Worker28 December 2009 at 22:59

    The last paragraph of your last comment is vitally important, David. Keep socking it to them. We want the South back, especially the countryside. Just let us keep our trains!

  16. Of course. I want everywhere to have them.

    Christmas or no Christmas, I have had two dozen emails saying what you are saying. "Keep socking it to them"? I certainly will.

  17. "Not everyone in the South, but certainly you, or you wouldn't come on here saying these things."

    For what it's worth I work in the legal profession outside of London. I don't have anything to do with the City or the banks. I don't earn enough to avoid tax or inflate house prices. Your first paragraph had a point but the rest just seems to be you getting carried away with bombastic rhetoric.

    No offence but I can't imagine the wealthy bankers you dislike so much are scared enough of you or your influence to come on here and try and debunk you. I just thought the claim that the North subsidised the South was widely inaccurate.

  18. It isn't.

    And (to which I will return on another topic soon enough) what else do they have to do these days?