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Manchester Likes London - Unlike Other Northern Cities

Jonathan Schofield on a capital reaction

Written by . Published on May 19th 2014.


Manchester Likes London - Unlike Other Northern Cities
 

THIS is my favourite ever quote about Manchester’s attitude to London. It comes from the early twentieth century when the disparity between northern cities and the property bubble economy of London wasn’t so exaggerated.

Confidential reckons that Manchester is right to have a more positive attitude to the capital than that of other Northern cities. 

In his autobiography Little Wilson Big God, Anthony Burgess wrote:

‘In those days, for a Mancunian to visit London was an essay in condescension. London was a day behind Manchester in the arts, in commercial cunning, in economic philosophy. True it had the monarch and the government and was gratuitously big. When foreigners came to Manchester they came to learn, not to feed ravens and snap beefeaters. Sometimes they learned too well, but that was not Manchester’s fault. Manchester was generous and London was not. London had some of the quality of Chorlton-cum-Hardy.’

That last line is laugh out loud stuff given how Chorlton has Hoxtonified over the last decade.

Now the Centre for Cities, commissioned by YouGov, has conducted a survey into how people view the capital and its impact on the rest of the country.

Manchester bucks a northern trend with more than a fifth of those polled (21%) believing that London has a 'very positive' impact on the city and 42% thinking it has a 'fairly positive' impact. 18% felt London benefited its economy. 

Manchester - twice as positive about London than Liverpool

Manchester - twice as positive about London than Liverpool

Elsewhere in the North it was very different.

Fewer than one in 10 people in Liverpool, a skip down the M62, thought London has a positive impact on the city’s economy. Indeed, Liverpudlians are among the most disaffected in the UK - along with people in Hull, Sheffield and Glasgow - when it comes to their view of how the capital looks at the provinces.

24% nationally believed London has a positive effect on their local economies.

So why is Manchester different from its brother urban centres in the North?

“It could reflect the fact that Manchester has a long history of strong leadership and relationships with Whitehall and as a result has more powers, funding and flexibilities to grow and shape the city,” the report's authors say. 

“Manchester’s recent City Deal and the continuous growth of its tram network, for example, demonstrate how city leaders have worked alongside government in London to drive change and support the economy in Manchester.”

It also pointed to the strong city region partnership Manchester has developed between ten local authorities as contributing to additional investment and growth. 

The survey took place across sixteen major UK cities. The results have led Centre For Cities to call on the government to devolve more powers and freedoms to cities so that they can take on more prominent economic, political and cultural roles.

Some Cockney's Enjoying The Property Boom

Some Cockneys enjoying the property boom

The joint project with Centre for London, supported by Lloyds Banking Group, found that contrary to David Cameron's assertion that “we are all in this together” the British public does not feel that the UK is a 'one nation economy'. 

Back to the stats.

Across the UK, only 17% of people believe London civil servants and politicians are responsive to issues in their own city – in Manchester its 20% and in Liverpool 8%. 

And despite the BBC's move to Salford, national coverage of news stories and cultural events tends to be regarded as London-centric. Ironically perhaps – but sensibly - even the report describes it as ‘Salford in Manchester’.

In Manchester 27% of the poll thought national coverage was 'very focussed' on London and 48% thought it 'fairly focussed' on London. 

Confidential reckons that Manchester is right to have a more positive attitude to the capital than that of other Northern cities. It’s best to be mature about these things, get on with the reality and attempt to change it from within.

London parklife

London parklife

One way of looking at this is by considering London so bloated, such an artificial bubble economy, that it exists as a separate country - although close enough for a lovely weekend away. In that case Burgess’s sangfroid above is the correct way to look at the relationship – with humour.

The other way to look at the Metropolitan Beast is with trepidation especially with regard to that Margaret Thatcher Frankenstein monster, The City of London and the 1986 Big Bang easing of stock market speculations. The latter is a grotesque leech on the British economy, a permanent imbalance.

When London's financial sector catches a chill it means the rest of us get pneumonia. If much of that grubby group in pin stripes were to go it might not be too bad a thing. Maybe we could concentrate on manufacturing a little bit more then. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

There are lots of biscuit tin scenes in LondonThere are lots of biscuit tin scenes in London

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66 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousMay 14th 2014.

I've got quite a negative opinion of London, formed when I lived there. The people I know who live there have a fairly negative opinion of it too - expense, crime, traffic and commuting times being the usual gripes. I love going to central London every so often to see the sights and I like going to watch City at Wembley, but 95% of London is a grim expanse of urban and suburban housing which is difficult to escape quickly.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomMay 14th 2014.

Away from the buzz of the city centre and a couple of favoured suburbs like Chiswick, it is pretty grim by and large.

DavidMay 14th 2014.

Margaret Thatcher had nothing to do with the City of London creation,,you do right some nonsense,for a supposed historian.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 14th 2014.

that didn't take you long did it?

AnonymousMay 14th 2014.

Wish you could spell, David. Cracking article!

Ghostly TomMay 14th 2014.

I have been to Hoxton and it's no where near as pleasant as Chorlton. More like one of the rougher bits of Salford with a few Vietnamese restaurants.

SquirrelitoMay 14th 2014.

So the 1986 Big Bang policy of deregulation of the City, one of Margaret Thatchers key policies, which is what he's referring to, as any fool could tell, that never happened did it? Oh, David, you truly are a querulous numpty.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidMay 14th 2014.

Frankenstein is not a appproprate analogy for that.So I don't agree.There is a lot wrong with having a economy dominated by the City of London,but Gordon Brown could not have vastly increased public spending(which no doubt Mr SCHOFIELD approved of like most Labour supporters) without the huge amount of tax the City pays. British manufacturing industry declined more under the last Labour government than any Tory.Its actually gone up again under the present Tory/Lib Dem.Any fool is usually a Labour fool like you Squirrelito.

SquirrelitoMay 14th 2014.

Labour? Me? and you've diagnosed this how? Your vexatious monomaniac delusions about Jonathan Schofield, and ManCon as a whole, tbf, are clouding your judgement.

Jonathan SchofieldMay 14th 2014.

I'll say this again David, you spoil debate with your vitriol. Argue nicely and that's fine otherwise you make these rant streams you against the world which is dull. I'll also repeat I don't vote Labour.

Ghostly TomMay 14th 2014.

Hasn't the City of London as a financial institution (or series thereof) been there for 300 years plus? Didn't realise it all sprang into life, fully formed in 1986....

SquirrelitoMay 14th 2014.

It was the deregulation in 1986 that sent it from being a closed shop of amateur toffs, skyrocketing into a global powerhouse, for better or worse.

DavidMay 14th 2014.

Given the London economic dominance of the economy is a bad thing why is Manchester Council investing our money,in owning Stansted Airport.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 14th 2014.

Cos it's a great thing to do. Why not own a piece of money-making infrastructure?

AnonymousMay 14th 2014.

Another classic non-sequitur David you utter moron.

DavidMay 14th 2014.

It is relevant and if MAG subsequently decides to base itself in London you will see that is .London domination has been caused in part by a lot of companies choosing to move their headquarters to the capital to the detriment of the interests of those outside London.This happened with both the Manchester Guardian and with Granada Tv. If Manchester wants a commercial return on its money invest it somewhere that won't hurry it's own interests.

DavidMay 14th 2014.

It's the great and the good in London who lobby for the expansion of Heathrow at the expense of regional airport,who push got greater transport spending,who fill the quangos that give the overwhelming amount of arts spending to London.When a city like Manchester loses the Hq of a major company it loses the ability to fund its arts and culture.London with lots company headquarters is not hurt in the same way.

Calum McGMay 20th 2014.

Auto Trader is moving north; our new HQ is to be First Street and not Wimbledon. It's not all bad news.

AnonymousMay 14th 2014.

HATE the place, hate everything it stands for and how every single thing of National importance has to be there.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 14th 2014.

Would you like a biscuit? You seem very angry.

AnonymousMay 14th 2014.

No i'm good thanks! Not angry just don't like how everything is geared toward one city in this country like no other country does with any other city in the entire world. It's so biased and unfair it's untrue.

LondonerMay 14th 2014.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner that I like London town

LondonerMay 14th 2014.

Doing the Lambeth Walk.....

DavidMay 14th 2014.

There is another country which if anything is even more dominated by its capital and that's France.Paris totally dominates France culturally at least in UK other cities like Manchester and Liverpool have made their mark on global culture.

Poster BoyMay 14th 2014.

Nice click bait JS...

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldMay 14th 2014.

That wasn't the intention but if it happens...

Poster BoyMay 14th 2014.

...and can I claim £10 for each of the predictable ranters?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 14th 2014.

Does that include yourself?

Poster BoyMay 14th 2014.

Wood and trees...

AnonymousMay 21st 2014.

Surely it pots and kettles.....mixing your metaphors Poster Boy?......I suppose.....when in Rome

AnonymousMay 14th 2014.

With the break up of UK with Scottish independence and possible departure from E U then the age of London dominance may be coming to an end.If UKIP can achieve electoral success on the basis of just over 50% of the population wanting to leave the E U there must be a opportunity for a political party to tap into the even greater anti-London sentiment in this country.Unfortunately all existing parties are London based.Red Ed,Cameron and Clegg are all from London or South East and out of touch with the strength of popular sentiment against London.

Mark FullerMay 14th 2014.

Just a thought/theory: places oop north where there is less resentment towards London and where visceral hatred towards evil Tories/ Thatcher is weak or absent, say York, Chester and possibly Manchester are more confident and successful cities than those( like Hull) where entrenched and self destructive attitudes prevail.Whilst there is substance to the argument that the economy is unbalanced towards London, we can address this by believing in ourselves and working together not just with neighboring boroughs like Bolton and Bury, but also with our sister city of Liverpool. A large swathe of the North West,between the Pennines and the Wirral , with it's population of around 5 million, can be a powerful counter- balance economically,politically and culturally to London and the South East. Being too anti-London, anti-capitalism, anti-Tory etc, makes an area appear insular, bigoted and bitter:very unappealing to investors. Manchester C.C. despite being Labour, often gives the impression of being pragmatic,pro-market and open for business, and for that they deserve some credit.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
Mark McGinnMay 14th 2014.

EDITORIAL. Comment Removed. Mark I think you've confused us with one of those shouty violent websites who are read by blinkered fools with set minds. Arguments are fine but name calling of this nature is dreary and so very very playground.

rinkydinkMay 14th 2014.

Well said Mark

rinkydinkMay 14th 2014.

Mark Fuller that is...

AnonymousMay 14th 2014.

Seriously naive stuff. All this happy clappy 'let's all work together' nonsense is all well and good but there are often STRUCTURAL reasons why it is not always easy or possible. That is not moaning or blaming but identifying real life barriers to co-operation. Some of these are political in nature, some institutional, some financial. To bring it back to the theme of the article, it's suggested that the reason people in Manchester are marginally more favourable towards London is because the city has successfully co-operated to drive economic growth and demand devolved powers. But despite the very modest devolution that has taken place thus far, most local public funding decisions are still taken in Whitehall. We also have an economy dominated by financial services with the City of London feeding off merger and acquisition activity at the expense of long term investment in home-grown production and R&D (AstraZeneca anyone?) and a banking system that is largely separate from the society it is supposed to serve. It is an obvious point to make that people and business in the North would profit by co-operating more but one of the key barriers to that are the poor transpennine transport links - no prizes for guessing where powers and funding is held that might unlock much needed investment in these links. Overly centralised party politics begets an overly centralised economy, begets a disunited and disgruntled country.

Mark FullerMay 14th 2014.

Thanks Rinkydink. I didn't see the hostile comment, thankfully.

Mark FullerMay 14th 2014.

Party politics and the economy is too centralised , as you correctly state. But I am arguing that while we wait for de-centralisation which may never come, we have it in our power to change things for the better ourselves, and that co-operation and co-ordination with our neighbours is key to achieving this. Of course there are barriers to co-operation. There has often been emnity between Manchester and Liverpool for e.g., and some people like it that way. But before long, thanks to the massive infrastructure projects underway in the north, Liverpool will be only 30 minutes away by train, and so in a very real psychological sense these two rivals will come closer together and the inter-dependence become increasingly obvious. The economy is recovering quite well right now across all sectors, including manufacturing. Unemployment is down in every region of England and Wales except the North East. Over 70% of the new jobs are full time, and most are going to British workers. There's plenty to be cheerful, optimistic and 'happy clappy' about at the moment, and that seems be making some people very miserable indeed.

SteveMay 15th 2014.

As a londoner living in Manchester I would like to say that London likes Manchester more than any other Northern city. With the mix of cultures, economy, night life, arts and food Manchester is like a great city and by far the most vibrant in the UK (excluding London which is it's own entity). Manchester is a great place and I love living in, even if I do have to put up with the occasional anti Southerner insults.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Calum McGMay 20th 2014.

Londoner here, too. However, I've called Manchester my home for 17 years now. It's a great place to live and work - and the capital is only 2 hrs away when I need to visit for work or pleasure.

SteveMay 15th 2014.

Clearly a mistake - not just "like a great city" but actually a great city!!

VictoriaMay 15th 2014.

I think the transport links are a big thing too- you can get several trains an hour to London from Manchester with no changes- in Liverpool its only one an hour that goes straight through

AnonymousMay 15th 2014.

I lived several years in London ...Sold a tiny flat there and bought a lovely Victorian house here for the same money when moved home......Having lived in Glasgow too, really do BELIEVE we are the only "alternative" to the over bloated capital.... Often have visitors from London who STILL can not believe what a good life, we manage to have here, whilst they live in small rented flats or are mortgaged to the hilt ......

James SmithMay 15th 2014.

Absolute total and utter nonsense Jonathan, this city should never accept the mere scraps that it is thrown from the table of London. Manchester has achieved what it has purely because of its own self belief and hard work, the city has thrived despite of, not because, of London. This city would be on a different level if it hadn't had to deal with 30 years of fiscal drag from the capital. The supposed indifference is because we’re doing alright at the moment. That is not a reason to accept what is going on. The billions drained away from the regions just simply does not happen in any other equivalent nation. I am, quite frankly, embarrassed that Manchester seems ambivalent to it, and this article is quite shameful. This city needs to be, and should, be at the forefront of the inevitable re-balancing of the UK. Wake up, we have been utterly shafted by each government from the late 70’s and until we manage to take some control of our own destiny then we will always be a second rate city.

espoirMay 19th 2014.

HS2 is the most Londoncentric example, instead of giving us the much cheaper and infinitely more useful direct link to the channel tunnel. They think we should be content with going to London. I'd like to board a train in Manchester for Paris thanks. And with all the billions on HS2, which will mainly benefit London as the centre of it all we'll be told we can't have anything that we really would like because we've had so much spent on us. HS2 just blocks everything. I'd rather have the money spent in Manchester, like a botanic garden, a modern art gallery, trams down Oxford Rd etc. They think all that counts to us is getting to London quickly. I really can't stand that.

10 Responses: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomMay 20th 2014.

Strange that you mentioned three of the projects I'd like to see in the city. URBIS would have been perfect for a a gallery of Modern Art in stead of filling full of old footballs. A botanical garden (Kew North?) would be a great attraction. And why they have t put trams down Oxford Road through the universities is beyond me.

AnonymousMay 20th 2014.

@Ghostly Tom, I agree with your tram comment. They should go no further than MRI though. It would be a benefit to the city although the students would still use the buses as they're cheaper.

Calum McGMay 20th 2014.

Espoir, it's largely about capacity not speed. WCML will be full in 10 years - so what do you propose to do then?

Calum McGMay 20th 2014.

Tom - don't you like the football museum? I don't even like football, but thought the museum was great fun. As for trams - we need more, much more. A proper conurbation-wide network. Perhaps in 100 years...

Ghostly TomMay 21st 2014.

@Ali McG....the football museum is dull, send it back to Preston and let's have something world class in that stunning building. So far in its life, the building has far outshone it's uses.

AnonymousMay 21st 2014.

Plenty of people disagree with you. Wishing a successful tourist attraction out of the city, just because it isn't to your taste, seems like a pretty stupid idea.

Ghostly TomMay 21st 2014.

The building could be put to better use attracting something world class, nothing stupid in that. The waste of a good building is stupid. Plenty of people in Preston would disagree with you. They lost out badly in the move.

Calum McGMay 21st 2014.

Tom, with all due respect, nothing better has come along. So it's lovely to have fanciful dreams - but who's going to dream up what to put in it... and who'll finance it? If you want to build a world-class collection of something, that's gona be hundreds of millions of pounds. And although you may like Urbis, it's far nicer outside than inside. The small floor plates will automatically limit how big your world class [insert idea] is. #justsaying

AnonymousMay 21st 2014.

The fact that you don't like the museum doesn't mean it's a 'waste of a building', particularly given the fact it has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. You're right in that Preston did lose out badly when it moved, so why on earth would you think it's a good idea for Manchester to lose it?

Ghostly TomMay 21st 2014.

@alimcg...that would be for the world class traction to solve not me, but we shouldn't have jumped at the first idea that came its way and hijacking Preston's attraction. The council could chip in. They obviously have money to burn if they can throw 3.5 million at a new entrance to Central Library within sight of the existing, perfectly usable one... ...and what's wrong with having fanciful dreams? Manchester was built on them. Someone had the fanciful dream to connect the city to the sea... Are you saying that the present movers and shakers don't have dreams and vision? I think you are probably right there.... @anonymous ...museums should evoke a sense of wonder in the visitor, either that or have artefacts and art work that people connect with and wish to return to. Manchester Art Gallery, MOSI, Manchester Museum do this, URBIS is now full of old footballs and interactive displays that don't work.

Ghostly TomMay 20th 2014.

I think the Oxford Road tram should go out as far as the university residential campus in Fallowfied, possibly as far as Withington, maybe to Didsbury and Northenden. As for the football museum, it is dull, dull, dull...a waste of a stunning building...

8 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 21st 2014.

It's the busiest bus route in Manchester and well supplied with buses. In fact too many during the day. Lots of bus stops along it make it more than convenient for the South City masses. The trams would be less frequent and there'd be fewer stops making I less desirable, plus the fairs would be more expensive than buses. It's too narrow in parts, especially the Curry Quarter. Re-open railway lines. Hyde Road to Levenshulme route would be a good example. I'm sure Didsbury's happy enough with it's two tram stops.

Ghostly TomMay 21st 2014.

Trams on Oxford Road and a lot less buses would be a great idea. During the recent warm spell you could taste the air along Oxford Road there was so much diesel being pumped into the air. It must be one of the most polluted routes in the city.

AnonymousMay 21st 2014.

Busiest bus route in Europe. It's a glorified taxi rank. Trams down there would be great.

AnonymousMay 25th 2014.

It would be nice to have a tram turn left off St Peter's Square and head down Oxford Road's Learning Corridor towards the residential campus. It'd be a great asset to the UoM and MMU as well as the hospitals. Where would the stops go? Ideally one near the Palace but those platforms are huge, so it would have to be an island like the one on Market Street. Then have one outside the MMU, then University Place and then the hospital area. Where then though? Opposite the Whitworth Art Gallery? The road starts to narrow and the curry quarter is congested enough so a lot of buses would have to be taken off. There's a lot of not-rights along that route so fare dodgers would be a nightmare.

espoirMay 26th 2014.

London can only think of HS2 because they don't understand this city at all. There is so much to improve within this city and the channel tunnel link is infinitely more useful to us, but they can't even comprehend the need for Northerners to go to Paris at all. I think the link was £2bn (not sure). They can't stand the idea of us bypassing London. They have never choked on Oxford Rd. and rather spend £35bn on HS2 than £0.5bn on something like trams or trolley buses for that. We need attractions like a modern art gallery and botanic garden.... London can't comprehend this at all. I'd prefer a great city to HS2 for a tiny fraction of the price. Please build a modern art gallery on the hideous Central Retail Park (another £0.5bn). and do keep ranting!!!

AnonymousMay 26th 2014.

Never mind trams what we need is HS2 down Oxford Road. St Peter's Square to Didsbury in 2 seconds flat.

ShabbaMay 26th 2014.

Wow, I think *somebody* a little bit obsessed with opposing any project that isn't a modern art gallery in Manchester! You should focus on making the case for the benefits of the gallery and have some positive ideas about how to fund it instead of ranting against things that aren't a gallery. And no, don't rant, because it turns people off and gets you nowhere.

espoirJune 2nd 2014.

yeah , obsessed with a modern art gallery, that's why I suggested some other things like electric transport on Oxford Rd, a botanic garden, the channel tunnel link. anything that improves the city itself, as long as it doesn't have the word "north" at the end. ps. the latest estimate for that silly HS2 is £42bn enough to fund our EU membership for 4 years or pay 4 olympic games. One hundredth or £420m would make a nice botanic garden I think, and many more things besides that transform this city.

AnonymousMay 21st 2014.

Fewer buses along Oxford Road? Good.

AnonymousJune 2nd 2014.

Fewer buses and more bins...all of Manchester's problems solved.

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