Readers respondby Prospect / February 24, 2010 / Leave a comment
Published in March 2010 issue of Prospect Magazine
Time to move the capital?
27th January 2010
In light of the fury surrounding MPs expenses and their failure to curb reckless banking practices, might this be a good moment for Prospect to dust down an idea from its December 2002 edition and once again call for our capital and national parliament to be relocated out of London?
Back in 2002 Prospect wrote of “Britain’s over-centralisation [in the southeast] of networks of power and energy,” and asked readers—somewhat tongue in cheek—to propose where parliament might best relocate. I suggested Stoke-on-Trent—among other things for its hub location, civic identity, cultural quarter and the boost to both business and to the badly decayed regional housing stock that such a move would bring.
After all that has transpired at Westminster since 2002, what shake-up could better purge and revitalise the national body-politic? By offering the electorate such an unexpected and uncompromising way of expressing anger and disillusionment with politics, Prospect could help to steal a march on the sinister forces bent upon exploiting that anger for less desirable ends.
Slums won’t save the world
3rd February 2010
Stewart Brand’s proposals (February) on squatter cities certainly deserve serious attention. However, once 80 per cent of the countryside has been cleared of peasants and small farmers—who have been packed off to live in festering slums like rats in a behavioural sink—the land freed of their inconvenient presence will become a happy hunting ground for Monsanto, Novartis and the rest: turned over to growing beef for McDonald’s, or haricot beans for Tesco. As an old ’68er, I remain loyal to John Seymour, the guru of self-sufficiency, who argued that the best basis for a stable and healthy society is a free and self-sufficient peasantry. Seymour has history on his side, while Brand’s “magic” slum utopia has a distinct air of patronising condescension—mixed with more than a touch of wishful thinking.