Thursday, 29 May 2014

Political Writing - London's broken




It's my opinion but not without evidence - London is broken! In fact if you go back far enough London has always been a sickly beast.

'A city in which people starve to death in the streets every week; and, in which the middle classes are corrupt, complacent, lazy, greedy and dishonest, more interested in the pursuit of shares than the pursuit of love.'

The city is London but the date is the mid 1860's! Sound familiar? The quote is from Charles Dickens while writing 'Our Mutual Friend' and I found it in the biography written by Claire Tomalin that I'm currently reading. Dickens wrote about his environment and the people he came across during his travels, he set up a home for prostitutes, he supported his extended family and showed himself to be a caring and sensitive man. He was dismayed at the state of the poor in London. Nothing seems to have changed in the last 200 years!

Other evidence comes from the result of government policies. That organisation feel the need to boost housebuilding and to create massive infrastructure projects that they believe will increase employment and galvanise the economy into a faster growth rate. There seems to have been a level of success if their strategies are correct. Nation wide there is an increase in house prices. The government have leapt upon the increase as success but it seems to me that when the increase is around 8% - 9% countrywide  and 17% - 18% in the capital that there is a falseness behind the upturn. 
The banks have in the last couple of weeks announced tighter controls on lending. Such rules as reducing the number of times your salary that you can borrow on a mortgage, and not taking the wife's salary as part of the equation. If you are making it tougher to borrow and prices are increasing, particularly in London, then that housing price bubble is going to burst. The largest building society in the country, the Nationwide, has already said this week that the movement of properties is slowing.

'If you own a property in London you must already be a millionaire!' - That was a comment by a stand up comedian this week. You can see where he's coming from. When house prices are so high in London who can afford to buy them? Where are the jobs that are paying film star salaries? When the housing bubble bursts once again, what will happen in the metropolis? Economies that have proved successful throughout the 2008 crash, such as China, Brazil and Germany, are founded on manufacturing and export not lending and borrowing.

My mother was often heard to use the saying,
'Never a lender or a borrower be'

Even the Archbishop of Canterbury has instigated a strategy against lending and borrowing, particularly aimed at pay day lenders. It is the Church Credit Champions Network (CCCN) a credit union run for the benefit of its members and providing an attractive alternative to the pay day lending companies that are charging interest rates in the 1000s of percent per year. The pilot starts in London, Southwark and Liverpool.

In the last month the Times in its infinite wisdom has published a rich list. Why do ordinary people with little prospect of joining that group need to know who has more money than someone else? I would rather see a list of people who have donated money to charity from their own personal fortunes, much more praiseworthy.

I could rant on for much longer about the imbalances in society, the negative role that London plays in this country and the fact that the UK would benefit if it was London that was annexed from the UK and not Scotland. I won't I will just leave you with these thoughts that came to me at 05:09 this morning.

Millionaire’s Lament

What is the point of a millionaire
if they exist just to make more?

What is the point of a millionaire
if all they make is more poor?

What is the point of a millionaire
if the earth is simply their playground?

What is the point of a millionaire
If when they play no one’s around?

What is the point of a millionaire
if the money they spend is wasted?
What is the point of a millionaire
if the prices they pay are inflated?

What is the point of a billionaire?

©David L Atkinson May 2014

God Bless