Seeing as the blog seems to be taking a markedly political turn, here is my offering for the day...
As you are probably aware, the 1980s was a period of very extensive economic restructuring for Western economies. After the collapse of the post war Social Democratic consensus in the 1970s, the Thatcher government implemented a range of policies designed to make British workers more ‘efficient’. These included anti Trade Union legislation, the sub-contacting out of local government services and the removal of employee rights to make labour markets more ‘flexible’.
However, at the very centre of the Thatcherite weltanschauung was a commitment to protect the international reputation of the City of London through a range of macro-economic strategies designed to ensure that the UK’s position in the international division of labour was tied to the logic of finance capital. In Thatcherite ideology, the entrepreneurial values of the city were seen as the antidote to the waning of spirit of British industrial culture. However, beneath the Thatcherite rhetoric there was a rather different story; a story of those damaged and displaced by these economic changes - especially the long-term unemployed in the UKs peripheral regions.
In fact, it was the northern regions of the UK that suffered most from Thatcherite political strategies of deindustrialisation. Culturally, the north of England has always been something of bastion for left-leaning anti-establishment political mores. It has largely rejected the cosy registers of the traditional forms of English nationalism and, historically, it has looked to the Labour Party, especially the left of the Labour Party, to represent its interests at the national political table. As such, it has tended to articulate its politics in broadly Marxist and/or Social-Democratic terms.
In the North it is generally understood that the deregulated model of economic development - that meets the needs of the economy of the South East - is inappropriate in a region that has very different economic goals and priorities. Moreover the neo-liberal financial services led growth model that was pioneered by the City of London is now widely understood to be entirely unsuitable, not only for the North but for the UK as a whole. Nearly everyone agrees that what the country needs today is an industrial strategy and that this is radically at odds with the finance-driven neo-liberal zeitgeist.
However, we cannot begin to contest this and transform the political landscape in the UK without taking on the entrenched power of the City of the London. As we have seen one of the key problems here is the cosy relation that has existed between the UK government and the City. Why then not separate these powers - that is separate economic from adminsitrative power? Let London keep the City; but move the government out into the provinces!
Where? Well Nottingham must have a good case. It is central, a border town between north and south; and also an ancient city with castle where government is already allowed to sit in case of an emergency.
Moving the capital to Nottingham would be the first step in developing a form of politics in the UK no longer mired in pernicious political interests of the City.