This week I had reason to read through last summer’s Communities white paper, and it just reminded me quite how Londoncentric our government can be.
In its more serious guise, the inability to see beyond the M25 has serious policy implications. As an example, the idea of choice in schooling makes more sense in the metropolis where it is at least possible to commute to school. Obviously this is impossible in rural areas, and even in big cities it can be difficult because public transport is so sparse.
The white paper does state that ‘power still remains too centralised and too concentrated in government’. And it is true that throughout the document there are examples from around the country.
However, if you look carefully you’ll see just how far the hired photographers are prepared to go. Each chapter begins with a photo of a model citizen holding up a placard. Some settings looked a little familiar. First I recognised Chapter 3’s picture, Russell Square station, then Chapter 6 looks suspiciously like a pub I used to drink in, the Museum Tavern in Bloomsbury. Checking the others, Chapter 2’s photo was at the Brunswick shopping centre, Bloomsbury, Chapter 8’s is outside Ruskin’s cafe, next to the Museum Tavern. Two are indoors and two I can’t tell where they are.
All of these staged photos, it seems, were taken with a mile or so of Russell Square station. So it’s Londoncentric to the core.