The event horizon that is the M25 means that people in London confuse national political news for local news.
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Outside Of London
Last year I was all about Your Attention Is Sovereign. This is still true. It always is and has been. You alone are responsible for where you put your attention. To day as we begin the new decade I want to talk a little about one of the places I think we should be putting it in 2020.
This episode is directed at the portion of the audience that lives specifically in London. But I assume the general shape of the idea is applicable to other folks in other cities.
London is a curious city, a city like no other. The flower of cities all.
A city with an enormous Gravity. Unlike other cities London is a total city. It is not only the capital, it is also the financial centre AND the creative centre, AND the political centre, AND the seat of the Sovereign. Other countries have these sources of power and influence distributed. In the US its Washington, New York, Los Angles etc.
London is a Gravity hole. One that swallows investment, money, infrastructure, influence and even souls. It’s great if you live here, but it means it is almost impossible to see over the event horizon and peep ‘outside’.
Being back home over Christmas made me realise that ‘London’ for the vast majority population is really far away. Not just a place but the Idea of it. For many people in the UK it might as well be on a different planet. Even if it’s only 100 miles or 1h20 on a train.
Last year we went to Bridport in Dorset for a wedding.. The thatcher man who was repairing the roof of the Airbnb we stayed in knew were from London, as the entire economy of the village is now built around two weddings a week at the barn on the estate. He said something to my and my friend Jen that continues to stick with me. He said, “I went to London once”. He said he liked it, a bit busy, but once was enough. What a hero.
Even I remember what London was like as a teenager growing up on the chalk in the late 90’s early naughty’s. Seeing all the gigs every week in the back of metal hammer, imagining what wonders Camden Market actually contained. Imagine living there!
The UK is now fully entrenched in peripherally vs core political dynamics, it is ironic that as we leave Europe our domestic political arrangement has finally caught up with wider global trends. In 1950, the population living in UK cities was 79% – already a large figure – but one which is set to rise to 92.2% by 2030. Unfortunately unless we see any radical electoral reform (which we won’t) the way our political system is designed means the peripherally, potentially just 8% of the population has more power than the core – the same dynamics also play out in the united states and most of Europe.
By 2030 the 8% of people living outside of cities in the UK are going to continue to think that London specifically, is an alien place on another planet. That’s only going to continue to get worse.
The never ending live blogs on major news sites of the minute by minute political developments that are going on in Westminster are completely irrelevant to them. From the outside it seems like the media have lost their minds. Which they have. And so have you.
The event horizon that is the M25 means that people in London confuse national political news for local news – I am just as guilty of this personally as the media are. And my friends are too.
I can’t name my local mayor. I know the head of the local council, but she’s the ward over from me, i have no idea who my councillor is. Whilst I am happy that there’s a whole section of the local park that’s being re-wild including lots of new trees. I had no idea that it was happening until I saw it and went home and looked it up.
Local news is the most important news.
2020 for me is about engaging with the local sphere. I want to know about road closures, speed limits, the local housing plan, the bike lanes, the bins. I’m going to try and submit my thoughts to all local consultations as the opportunities arise.
I’ve already gone deep and found a blogger who attends local council meetings and writes it up. They’re a tory but It’s only the second week in Jan and I already feel more informed about the world directly around me. Far far more informed than if I’d continued to follow the national news and deluded myself that it was local news.
Just because it is happening here, doesn’t mean that it’s happening here. If you know what I mean. There is a reason politicians on the right always bring up the bins or potholes.
It’s because local news is the most important news.
The most important thing is people. Follow more blogs this year and get an RSS reader.
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The above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in audio due to time constraints.