Here’s a curve ball from the London Evening Standard’s Ian Birrell, who thinks the UK capital is getting unfairly kicked by the rest of England for getting some things right, not least understanding the value of immigration and cultural diversity that arises from it:
Curiously, the most prosperous region outside the South is Scotland – which shares London’s social liberalism and greater acceptance of immigrants. For the differences between the capital and the rest of England are about far more than finance: they are about attitudes, culture and politics. Even when it came to the AV referendum last year, several London boroughs were almost alone in wanting change.
The tolerance of outsiders has transformed London in my lifetime, with one-third of residents now born abroad. When I was in Moscow recently the head of a television station asked me which was Russia’s second city? His answer was London.
Successive waves of immigrants have made this a vibrant place to live while ensuring a constant exchange of ideas and influences to keep the city ahead of the game.
This is why some argue Indian food is better in London than Delhi, why the capital’s music, art and fashion retain their cutting edges and why there are four businesses started in London for every one in Sunderland. It is also why the immigration cap is so damaging, whether to businesses or Europe’s largest cluster of universities.
London has always been shy about shouting how great it is since its success annoys the rest of the country. To placate such feelings, we see fig-leaf absurdities such as the BBC spending £1 billion moving some production to Salford Quays – then employing just 24 people from Salford.