No, I’m serious. We should send the rest of the government, Parliament and the Civil Service up there with them. There must be an old castle or country house around there that the Queen could use too.
The government has said that it wants to do something about the imbalance between London, south-eastern England and the regions. Instead of offering up a paltry £1bn subsidy, or paying people to relocate to find work, it could re-direct a massive amount of government spending just by moving away from London. It would also save some cash by vacating expensive London property and moving into cheaper premises in the North.
As the government left, so would the lobbyists, PR firms, consultants, lawyers and journalists who make up the Westminster Village. Much of the BBC would follow the government up the M1 too. Such a move would reduce the population, traffic, enviromental and other pressures on the South-East while transferring a huge amount of spending power to the North.
Most other major economies have their governmental and financial capitals in different places: Washington and New York, Berlin and Frankfurt, Rome and Milan, Ottawa and Toronto, Delhi and Mumbai, Brasilia and Sao Paulo, Beijing and Shanghai/Hong Kong. Of the G11 countries, only the UK, over-centralised France, even more over-centralised Russia and Japan combine their governmental and financial capitals in one city. And the Japanese are actively considering the re-location of their parliament away from Tokyo.
Separating governmental and financial capitals ensures that the benefits and costs of the capital cities are spread around the country. It also creates some distance between financiers and politicians, which can only be a good thing.
David Cameron’s decision to hold a Cabinet meeting in Bradford is a step in the right direction but it would be better for the country as a whole if he took the entire governmental apparatus with him and stayed there.