More, or Less? You Choose

Yes, you do.  Because just when you think that London, after all it’s had so far, can’t get greedier yet, along comes Crossrail 2.

The ‘National’ Infrastructure Commission last week recommended that the scheme – a north-south rail link across the capital – should be funded at once, “as a priority”, so it can open in 2033.  Its Chairman, Lord Adonis, said that London needs Crossrail 2 “as quickly as possible” to relieve congestion on Tubes and trains.  “Crossrail 2 will help keep London moving… we should get on with it right away”.  The smart money is on funding being announced as soon as Wednesday’s budget.
Now, it’s arguable that Crossrail 2 is an excellent scheme that will indeed deliver the benefits promised.  But so too are many others.  Wessex cities don’t have congestion on their underground metro systems because we’re still waiting for them to be built.  Many of our market towns could do with their trains back: many have mushroomed in size since the trains were lost through dodgy accounting under the Beeching axe.
The initial east-west Crossrail cost £14.8 billion.  Crossrail 2 will cost between £27 billion and £32 billion, at 2014 prices.  Adonis’ Commission recommends that London should contribute more than half the money.  Why not all of it, since it’s of no benefit whatsoever to us?  What about getting us moving too?  Why not a moratorium on anynew national funding for infrastructure in London until the rest of the ‘United’ Kingdom has caught up?  For how long?  About 100 years should do it.
Why does this happen?  London’s MPs don’t form a Commons majority.  In fact, 89% of MPs represent constituencies outside London.  Even adding in London’s commuter belt doesn’t take us anywhere near a majority.  So why do our MPs so submissively vote for our taxes to be poured into this bottomless pit?  Why do they soak up the lies from ‘experts’ that this is a good investment from which we all benefit in the end, even as we look around us at our shrivelling community landscape?  It’s time our politics – so good at pretending to represent social class divisions – grew a geographical dimension to match.  The SNP have shown how it’s done.  The revolt needs to come south.

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