Grim down south

London moaners inflict 'Capital Punishment' upon themselves.

Patrick West

Patrick West

Topics Politics

Development bosses in the north west have been criticised by other development agencies for an advertising campaign which claims that high living costs in the capital make it ‘grim’ down south.

According to the BBC, the North West Development Agency (NWDA) came under attack earlier this week for using negative tactics to persuade businesses to move out of London. Marianne Neville-Rolfe of the South East England Development Agency expressed her concern with the NWDA’s ‘Capital Punishment: Hammering London and the South East’ campaign.

Visiting a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference, she said: ‘It does seem unnecessary to spend so much effort on knocking other areas, when the north west has got so much to offer.’ Peter Mearns, speaking for the NWDA, argued that the campaign was not a negative one: ‘We’re simply saying the costs of doing business here in the region are better than those in the South East.’

It’s a little disconcerting to hear southerners complaining in this manner. Fifteen years ago, whenever a celebrity or tabloid journalist made a disparaging remark about Liverpool or Manchester, it was always met with a tart rebuttal from a city representative, insisting what a ‘vibrant, confident and cosmopolitan’ place they actually lived in. And it was always embarrassing to hear. This was the voice of insecurity. Inhabitants of cities that are truly great and confident feel no need to shout about it; they are untroubled by criticism.

Back then, much criticism was warranted. Northern cities suffered badly at the hands of urban developers after the war – and during the 1980s they suffered further from the collapse of staple industries. They were ugly, desperate places. A lot has changed since. Manchester particularly has undergone some sort of regeneration, and although it is not quite as wonderful as its apologists insist – areas like Ancoats, Moss Side and Salford are still not much fun at all; the Arndale centre still remains not blown to pieces – it has certainly improved handsomely.

A friend of mine, a wide-boy Londoner to the bone, went to live in Manchester 18 months ago and seemingly has no intention of returning. He doesn’t miss the traffic, the beggars, the roadworks and house prices of the capital. Were I not a journalist, I’d be tempted to join him.

This is not to say I don’t love London. For its pub life, its architecture, its libraries and artistic and literary scene, London remains unrivalled. And the notion that London’s inhabitants are unfriendly compared to their northern neighbours is an utter lie. Yorkshire folk are a bit too pleased with themselves and Mancunians often morose and sarcastic. Scousers are generally friendly, but so self-pitying with it.

What really grates about Londoners is their propensity for moaning. They do love a good old whinge. London has got quite grim in recent years, but the constant level of moaning is out of proportion to its problems. The moaning itself actually makes life in the capital more unbearable than it need be.
That Londoners have started whining about northerners pointing out the capital’s shortcomings is not a good sign. Next they’ll be complaining that such language from the NWDA is ‘disappointing’ and ‘offensive’ – always the words used when people are afraid to hear home truths.

  • A criminal community fit for the twenty-first century

Judging by the rash of stories about London’s burgeoning levels of street crime, it’s tempting to think the capital has replaced ‘Gunchester’ as Britain’s top city for firearm offences. A fortnight ago 40 Turks rampaged through an area of north London, leaving a man stabbed to death. The Metropolitan Police’s new Turkish taskforce subsequently seized an AK47 and ammunition from a house. The police also report 18 black-on-black killings in the capital this year.

Last week Scotland Yard issued an unusually frank assessment as to the ethnic makeup of London’s criminal world. Deputy assistant commissioner Mike Fuller said that London was ‘on the cusp’ of violent drug turf wars, with Albanian, Turkish and South-East Asian crime groups posing ‘new threats’. Jamaican Yardies are said to control much of the crack cocaine trade, Chinese gangs control people trafficking and Albanians rule the roost in Soho’s brothels. ‘White and black British gangs are still active’, reports The Times, ‘but they are more likely to specialise in protection rackets and armed robbery’.

It was a little surprising that Scotland Yard’s announcement was not met with shrill denouncements of inappropriateness. Most people will remember the outrage that ensued a few years back when Sir Paul Condon said that black Londoners were disproportionately more likely to be muggers than whites. But times have changed. Ian Blair, the Met’s deputy commissioner, told a conference on multiculturalism last month that most mugging victims reported that their attackers were black. ‘We have to be honest’, he said. This caused no shrieking.

Actually, multiculturalists are probably quite pleased at the current findings, which just go to prove how the crime industry is modern, diverse and in keeping with contemporary Britain. I’m only surprised they did not demand to know what exact percentage of certain ethnic minorities make up the criminal community, so that they could set targets to ensure fair ethnic representation.

No doubt multiculturalists were disappointed that the Irish and the Jews, who in the nineteenth century were scapegoated in London for being criminally inclined, are seemingly nowhere to be found today. The glass ceiling for would-be women villains has yet to be broken, too – and instead of employing the disabled, hoodlums merely create them.

But nobody should get too excited about progress made. Most criminals in London remain white. Truly this is a sad indictment of so-called multicultural Britain.

  • Back from Africa

Extracts from the Ancient Anglo-Saxon Book of Aphorisms and Maxims, number 104: ‘A woman on a catwalk is parading herself; a woman in a brothel is empowering herself; a woman in a beauty contest is demeaning herself.’

Patrick West is the author of Conspicuous Compassion: Why Sometimes it Really is Cruel to be Kind, Civitas, 2004. Buy this book from Amazon (UK).

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Topics Politics


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