Look at the capital and you’ll see Britain’s future—better educated, less white and increasingly liberalby Jeremy Cliffe / June 18, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
Since the general election, commentators from across the political spectrum have declared that the politics of London and those of the rest of the country are diverging. On the right, Brendan O’Neill writes that “vast swathes of the United Kingdom are now Labour-free zones. With one very striking exception: London. Here, Labour did better than in 2010.” On the left, Andy Burnham rails against a “metropolitan elite,” an unsubtle dig at the capital’s liberalism. The Labour MP Simon Danczuk argues that the party now needs to tailor its message on immigration to Rochdale, not Islington.
It would be foolish, of course, to deny that the capital differs in all sorts of ways from the rest of Britain. For example, inner London generates about three times as much wealth per head of population as the country as a whole. About three in five members of its workforce are university educated, compared with two in five nationally. And polling suggests that Londoners are more socially and economically liberal than Britons in general. While 40 per cent of them are non-white, the national figure is 14 per cent. Apart from Greater London’s easternmost fringes, the UK Independence Party is barely a presence in the capital.