February 26 2017 0comment
Manchester

Should Manchester be Britain’s capital city?

Top journalists at The Economist certainly think so, arguing the move would smash the north-south divide and save taxpayers millions on Westminster repair costs.

The argument over whether Manchester or Birmingham is the UK’s second city could finally be laid to rest.

Brummies may soon have to argue it out with Londonders.

Economist journalists reckon making Manchester the country’s capital would ‘change British politics for the better’, making it more affordable and accessible.

They say the move would ‘drive urban integration’, raise productivity and boost living standards.

Politicians on our patch have long argued the need the burst the establishment bubble. Economist bosses agree, insisting leaders would be much closer to ‘ordinary voters’ if our city took over from London.

Repairs to the Palace of Westminster are long overdue. The Victorian complex is crumbling, with at least £4bn needed to bring it up to scratch.

Moving both houses of Parliament out for up to eight years would be a massive undertaking.

Economist bosses say creating a ‘modern political centre’ has nothing to do with the state of Westminster, but about fixing the country’s traditional divide.

They argue the ‘establishment’ in many countries is split between multiple locations – Berlin and Munich, Toronto and Montreal, Sydney and Melbourne, Barcelona and Madrid.

That, they argue, makes the establishment ‘less complacent, blinkered and self-regarding’.

The Economist says Manchester could be the perfect counterbalance to London, capable of attracting government staff, the media, think tanks, investors and business leaders.

The magazine’s Bagehot column reads: “Manchester clearly has the edge. Its position as Britain’s de-facto second city is well-established.

“Its infrastructure is better than that of Birmingham, it has more space to grow, its airport already has twice the traffic and twice the number of international connections.”

The Manchester Central Convention Complex is suggested as the place to house the two houses of Parliament, with nearby rundown mills and warehouses perfect for offices for MPs and government departments.

The Prime Minister could work from Central Library, the column suggests.

“Perhaps moving Britain’s cockpit from the pompous, forbidding, Oxbridge-college air of Westminster to these airy Victorian temples of manufacturing and entrepreneurial ingenuity would improve politics, making it more optimistic, accessible and ambitious,” the column adds.

Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese said addressing the north-south divide isn’t about where the capital is, but where cash is invested.

He said: “While it’s encouraging that Manchester’s strengths and potential are being increasingly recognised both nationally and internationally, we see our role as complementing London rather than competing with it.

“We know most Mancunians would consider our city the capital anyway. This is a bit of fun, but there is an important message behind it.

“If the government is serious about rebalancing the national economy and reducing the dominance of London, what matters most is not where is designated the capital city, but where the investment takes place.

“That’s why we are continuing to push for infrastructure investments such as HS2 and new transpennine route Northern Powerhouse rail to improve Manchester’s north-south and east-west connections and continuing investment in Manchester’s distinctive strengths – whether it’s pioneering research into advanced materials such as graphene led by our world-class scientists or groundbreaking cultural content as exemplified by Manchester International Festival and the Factory.”

Article Source