ONE blogs – JAMES W WOOD – THE GIFT: PHILIP BLOND AND NEW LOCALISM

By way of a springtime gift, I can’t offer readers of ONE anything better than to direct them to this piece by Philip Blond, a Director of Demos, the London-based research institute:

http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=10608

In it, Blond describes with laser accuracy the nature of the current crisis – and what needs to happen to get us out of the crisis. Among many sound points in his analysis, one point struck a deep chord with me – namely, that the UK is crippled by the fact that too many of the people and too much of the talent lives (mostly of necessity) in the South-East of England.

I lived in London for ten years, then left when the pains started to outweigh the benefits. Returning to my native Scotland, the comparative absence of opportunity has been shocking – and it’s certainly not the result of a failure of talent among people born in Scotland.

Rather, as Blond brilliantly demonstrates, it’s because the historical development of our society has created giant international organisations either based in London or that depend on London (e.g. RBS, HBoS) who spend comparatively little in local communities; or giant, state-led behemoths such as the NHS that engage with national-level suppliers – most of whom are based in London.

What’s needed, Blond argues, is a commitment to spend and employ people locally – and reinvestment in the value (in every sense) of the contributions made by people at all levels in society.

In 2004, I decided that life in the South East was becoming unsustainable & that a crisis before 2012 was inevitable. That crisis, in the shape of a financial collapse, has occurred: but a second crisis, based on the availability of resources and over-crowding, also looms. Hopefully, this second crisis will trigger a review of how we perceive the “centre” and the “regions” of our country, reinvesting a worth into living in the regions that was last seen before the 1960s.

It could be argued that the recent interest in “quality of life” epitomised in TV programmes such as, “Escape to the country” is a manifestation of this rebalancing: yet without the capacity to earn a decent living in rural areas, this interest, as Blond argues, will remain exactly that – an aspiration, and not a reality for those stuck on a train somewhere between Southampton and Waterloo.