The North/South Divide

I’ve been up in Stoke-on-Trent visiting family over the last couple of days. It’s always so great to be up here, and there’s nothing like gentle ribbing and affectionate banter from your relatives to put life’s little problems into perspective isn’t there?

While I have an innate fondness for the place (I was born in Stoke, after all), you can’t help but notice the differences between this particular section of the midlands and where I currently live in Berkshire. The architecture for one. There’s some beautiful old buildings around here in Stoke, but it’s long since suffered neglect.

I’m reminded of the scenes in Martin Durkin’s brilliant documentary “Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story”, where he shows all those beautiful majestic buildings in Newcastle, which now just house civil service bureaucrats and 99p Stores.

That’s the tragedy of the north. It was the economic tiger of the world, but an increasing level of pressure from unions and political leaders drove state intervention to unprecedented levels. And as a result, the north and the midlands went from the kingdom of global economic success to… well, you know.

But the good news is that things could get better quickly. Limit government spending, roll back the frontiers of the state, and the north could become that great economic tiger once more.

It’d take a huge change in the philosophical outlook of people in the north, but I’d love to still be around to see it.