The London Problem

What Britain Gets Wrong About Its Capital City

by Jack Brown

‘A timely and wise analysis of the UK‘s awkward relationship with its capital city.’– Professor Tony Travers

‘In recent years, the view that London is so voracious and dynamic that it has become a risk to the nation has gained wide popularity among policy-makers. This old idea, recycled for modern times, has led government for a decade and more to move jobs and intellectual enterprise out of the capital. In fact, no policy could be more pernicious. As Jack Brown convincingly shows, a strong London is vital for the prosperity and wellbeing of the nation and has always been so. The London Problem is essential reading for all who have the interests of not just London but the UK as a whole at heart.’– Jerry White, Emeritus Professor of London History, Birkbeck

The United Kingdom has never had an easy relationship with its capital. Far and away the wealthiest and most populous city in the country, London is the political, financial and cultural centre of the UK and it is responsible for almost a quarter of its economic output. Yet the city’s insatiable growth and perceived political dominance have caused national leaders grave concern for hundreds of years. This ‘London as problem’ perception has only increased as the city has become busier, dirtier and ever more powerful. The recent resurgence in anti-London sentiment and plans to rebalance power away from the capital should not be a surprise in a nation still feeling the effects of austerity. But will it be different this time? Will HS2 or the plan to move the House of Lords to northern England really redistribute power and wealth?

Published on the eve of the delayed mayoral elections and in the wake of the greatest financial downturn in generations, The London Problem asks whether the capital’s relentless growth and stranglehold on commerce and culture will ever leave room for other regions to compete.

JACK BROWN is London Partnerships Director and Lecturer in London Studies at King’s College London, and Senior Researcher at the Centre for London. He is the author of No. 10: The Geography of Power at Downing Street (2019).

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