We do not argue that Wessex is not English but we do argue that there is a debate to be had about the governance of England. A unified England is a centralised England – in many ways still a Norman England – and one that in practice is run largely for London’s benefit, not ours.
Take the Olympic Games, to be held in London in 2012, for the third time. No other UK city has ever hosted the games, yet provincial cities elsewhere have (Barcelona being the prime example that is still looked up to).
According to a recent report in the Financial Times (a London newspaper), preparations for the games have delivered a publicly funded bonanza for companies in London and the South East but other areas are deriving meagre benefits. Companies based in London have won more than £2.7 billion of contracts, more than half the total £5.1 billion so far spent by the Olympic Delivery Authority. Looking at the other Prescott zones, we find that South East companies won contracts worth £805 million and those in eastern England £719 million. Companies in the North East and South West won just £9 million each. Distance is not the deciding factor: the North West won £97 million and Scotland £23 million.
The ODA claimed contracts had filtered down to companies outside London through sub-contracts: “Direct ODA contracts are the tip of the iceberg and there are hundreds of sub-contracts going to businesses through the UK-wide supply chains.” However, it could not provide any evidence to support this claim, citing confidentiality.
Sure, London council tax payers are footing a slice of the bill. But so are we all. In 2005, when London won the Olympic bid, Seb Coe pledged that the games would “provide a unique opportunity for businesses of all shapes and sizes across the UK, providing essential goods and services for this historic event.” Reality seems to differ.