With May 5th creeping ever closer, news of the London election has been dominating the airwaves of all of London. This is totally normal – of course an election for the mayor of a city would get coverage in city itself. However, for some reason the London mayoral election has been getting huge coverage across the entirety of Britain – I wouldn’t doubt that in the near future a family in the likes of Huddersfield will know what Sadiq Khan had for breakfast or what Zac Goldsmith’s favourite colour is given the extensive coverage our media is giving the London elections.
If anything, it’s proving that the North-South divide is still a pertinent issue. The Liverpool mayoral elections weren’t given nearly enough coverage in Liverpool itself, let alone nationally nor was the Mayoral referendum of 2012. It seems to me that, as it’s always been, all eyes are on London as the media turns this election into some kind of national issue.
This is a sadly common trend however, the jobs, the attention, and the money all centre on London – and even then more often than not it’s the one square mile that encompasses the city that really matters. It’s disheartening to think so much of our economy centres around that one ludicrously small space, but I digress. The rest of the U.K just has to take a backseat – shown through George Osborne’s flagship ‘northern powerhouse’ scheme having 97% of its staff based in, you guessed it, London.
With 10 of the 12 of England’s struggling economies being in Northern areas, many regions in the North are simply being left to rot whilst cameras turn to the glitz and glamour that surrounds London. There’s reams of disconcerting stats that support this – with youth unemployment being highest by a significant margin in northern regions, and as a result jobseekers allowance is being claimed in much higher numbers in the north.
This isn’t some kind of accident – it’s a result of an economy that ignores the North. Even cities that have had more attention paid to them in recent years, such as Manchester, still have suburbs that are significantly poorer than the central city and, in spite of attention paid to many of the North’s historical cities such as Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester, the growth remains unequal and the amount of government resources devoted to solving this is pathetically small compared to the money thrown at London on a daily basis.
The message that is being sent is clear and simple – what matters is London. That’s where the prosperity is, and everywhere else simply isn’t as important. This uneven growth between London and the North has been going on for decades – and despise the hollow slogans of things such as the ‘northern powerhouse’ suddenly emerging, the North-South divide is as stark as ever. And nothing shows that more than the amount of attention the national media pay to these London mayoral elections.
Image courtesy of Getty