The head of the City Corporation urges MPs from the capital to join “Team London” to fuel the debate
Catherine McGuinness and others at the Center for London conference called on the city’s parliamentarians to help challenge anti-London attitudes
City of London Corporation political leader Catherine McGuinness has urged the 73 MPs of London to join “Team London” as they are concerned about growing anti-London sentiment in the “leveling debate”.
Speaking at the Think Tanks Center for London’s annual conference, McGuinness (pictured) said City Hall and boroughs are working with business, health, educational, and volunteer organizations in responding to Covid and planning the city’s recovery to address the pandemic positive, including by Sadiq Khan’s London Recovery Board.
But parliamentarians would have to take part in the discussion, she said: “It would help if our London MEPs work with us to promote London.”
McGuinness was backed by the center’s chairman Nick Bowes, who said the capital’s MPs had not worked together as effectively as other regional groupings of MPs. “I hope you can wake up and wake up a bit,” he said.
Both bipartisan and supraregional cooperation are vital, speakers said. Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics warned that London’s “working stronghold” status could facilitate “leveling” towards anti-London policies.
“London against the rest” is a “fake war” intended to divide, said Sarah Longlands, executive director of the Center for Local Economic Strategies. The problem was that Britain is an “outlier” across the country due to its low investment in the “building blocks of the economy”.
The short-term funding offered by the government “doesn’t even scratch the surface,” said Burnley Council Chairman Afrasiab Anwar. The so-called “red wall” resentment is not directed against the Londoners or London as a place, but rather around the “separation” between the capital as a center of power and the rest of the country, he added.
London’s “economic” border goes much further than the “political” border of Greater London, said Bowes, and encompasses “a great many hardships on par with the rest of the country.”
However, Bowes warned: “We cannot win the dispute by accusing the rest of the country of statistics. People don’t believe the data. When you say Rotherham and Lewisham are as poor as everyone else, people don’t believe it. It’s about feelings, emotions. We have to find a way to make these emotional connections. “
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