London should be at the centre of the EU

March 2, 2013 3:47 pm

The European Council’s agreement on the EU budget for 2014-2020 has been greeted with relief in Brussels.  The dark scenario of endless wrangling and brinkmanship – à la Washington – has been avoided.  Perhaps this is the start of a more positive period for the EU, if the Heads of Government can continue to build on recent progress in tackling the Eurozone debt crisis.

There was predictable gloating from eurosceptic quarters about having “won” budget cuts.  But for most people, austerity and recession are hardly a cause for rejoicing, whether in Britain or in Europe.  The bigger questions remain about how to create growth and jobs and tackle the everyday problems of people.

The good news is that we can now look forward.  London should make the most out of being one of Europe’s premier capital cities.  As a Londoner, I know that ordinary people are facing great difficulties in the current climate.  I also know that London is greatly admired in Europe and can set an example in many ways.  So there is the potential for a rich and vibrant agenda for London in Europe.

The priority is the economy, growth and jobs.  Here the EU needs to do much better in delivering action that matters.  The EU has come up with some interesting ideas which need to be translated into action.  A Youth Unemployment Fund has been decided and a Grand Coalition on digital jobs has been launched.  Whilst London is certainly not amongst the poorest areas of Europe we know that there is shocking inequality and that young school leavers are particularly hard hit.  Who would pretend that the social conditions underlying the 2011 riots have somehow disappeared ?  At the same time, Silicon Roundabout in London points to Britain’s leadership in the digital economy. So London definitely needs to be involved.

Secondly, the new Connecting Europe Facility worth € 29 billion will boost the European economy by building infrastructure networks in transport and energy.  As the main staging post between continental Europe and the rest of the UK, London has to be part of the picture.  Big decisions will be taken which will shape our future mobility, energy security and quality of life.  (NB: Broadband networks were dropped from the facility as part of the austerity drive, despite the UK having the biggest digital economy in Europe: no doubt the eurosceptics are particularly proud about that. )

Fighting crime and ensuring the streets of London are safe remains a major concern.  The cuts to front line policing combined with widespread violence and drugs are a reality.  The European Union is part of the solution.    Through judicial and police cooperation, countries in Europe can work together to tackle international organized crime.  By rooting out organized crime we can avoid it spilling over on to our streets, whether it comes from inside the EU, the Balkans or further afield.  Emma Reynolds has quite rightly underlined how the European Arrest Warrant was key to extraditing a suspect in connection with the 2005 London bombings.

London is home to a dazzling variety of cultures, nationalities and ethnic minorities.  A bit like Europe.  In London, in Europe, we must cherish our diversity and fight against intolerance, xenophobia and racism.  Austerity and recession have fanned the flames of populism and the hard right – in Eastleigh and in Europe – and we must be vigilant.

In Europe, regions and cities can be active players and not just rely on central government.  London, one of Europe’s great capitals, needs a vision for its role.  On youth unemployment, on crime, on fighting racism, Londoners have so much to benefit from and so much to contribute to Europe.  The elections to the European Parliament next year will be a time to set out this positive agenda.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    Silicone is a rubberoid compound, typically Ph2SiO. Silicon is a metalloid element whose conductivity properties and generally inert properties across a range of conditions – both thermal and electrical – make it useful for advanced electronics. Neither are particularly related.

    It is a pity that you do not know the difference. It is hard to credit the intellectual quality of anything else you say when such a basic error is advanced in your argument.

  • Dave Postles

    London, London, London – always bloody London.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      The source of lots of taxes which are then spent around the country?

      • rekrab

        Some say they built the city on North Sea oil.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          “Some say” are wrong. It seems to have been going for several hundred years before the oil was discovered, Derek. In fact, the first bailout of the Royal Bank of Scotland was in 1706, preceding by 9 months the Act of Union. Some silly adventuring in Darien having bankrupted Scotland, and forcing the Scots to come with the hat out for money.

          You raise an interesting point. If the Scots vote for independence, will they pay in front their fair share of the debt, accrued over several hundred years, and by more than a fair share of Scottish Prime Ministers and Chancellors?

          • rekrab

            Ah, Sir William Paterson was a co founder of the BoE, so the clash of our swords ignite a spark designed in those dark vaults of London.

            It’s a strange one? since the act of the union surely Scots have been paying their fair share of tax, indeed there is a surplus.Does the crown estate surrender it’s grip?Free land is all peoples land, not unless you think it’s right and proper to build brick wall to keep people out.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            I don’t follow the last bit of your text.

            What is interesting, but I have not all of the facts, is that some statistics point to oil and gas revenues being greater than government spending in Scotland, and other statistics point to per head expenditure in Scotland being greater than anywhere else in the UK except for London. Both I suppose could co-equally be true, but they are nothing but historic. What is more important is what is going to happen in the future.

            The one argument that I think that all Scots people will need to balance in the referendum is that the oil and gas are rapidly decreasing. It is of no use being independent if there is no money. Leaving aside all oil and gas revenue, I do not see that Scotland has a viable future as independent. Little industry of concern, not necessarily in the EU now that Salmond and Sturgeon have been proven wrong, geographically on the edge of Europe.

            The most fatal thing for the Scottish independence cause would be for the British government to build a proper super-motorway from Yorkshire to Edinburgh (replacing the A1, which becomes a country road north of the M62, except for around Newcastle). Then if Scotland becomes independent, all of the businesses could relocate to Newcastle, particularly if there are lower taxes in England.

          • rekrab

            It seems someone has come up with the separation figure of £80Bn and that was met with the balance that there was still over£400Bn worth of oil and gas to be traded.

            It’s maybe worth using the Lewis chessmen as a pointer, as to how things work with the London snatchers. I think there is something like 92 pieces, of which 11 are based in Scotland and the rest in London.London has this thing about given the Scots around the 10% mark, while clutching the fair share.

            Scotland might extend itself as far as Derby, for sure Newcastle and Liverpool, east and west areas of England tend to favour Northern solution as opposed to centrist London grips.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Derek,

            I don’t want a separation of Scotland from the UK, but it is up to the Scots.

            Try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH1Rs6LSvBs

            …but not on the road, it leads to speeding points…:(

          • rekrab

            As Lyle would say cigarettes and valentines

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Good drumming there by your boy. He’s got a great future, and you’ll be rightly proud. I’m not a drummer, more of a guitarist (but still not very good). My beautiful wife bought me a lovely made-to-order Stratocaster in my favourite colour for my 45th, and I’m getting better.

            This in her favour, as the night that I met her, she had her hair tied up in a black velvet Alice band (but only because she normally does). Completely jaw-dropping beautiful. Neither of us are Irish, but this is my song for her. She still has her hair hanging over her shoulders, normally tied up with a velvet band, she caught me far away from my friends and relations, and she’ll always be the “Queen of the land” to me.

          • rekrab

            Good stuff!

            And Lewis does it for Dylan and the Kid.

            https://soundcloud.com/lewis-barker-music/knockin-on-heavns-door-lewis

          • PaulHalsall

            They have around 10% of the population, they should get around 10% of the National Debt.

            There is no other basis for division.

      • Dave Postles

        Dubious if a proper cost analysis is undertaken, including all capital investment which benefits London, the cost of benefits for poor London families, the cost of bailing out financial services, the movement of capital from the provinces into London HQs, and so on. Some have estimated that the net balance is against London.

  • KonradBaxter

    The center of the EU is Berlin and Paris. There is no room for anyone else.

    • Martin Dawson

      In my article I set out London in Europe as an example of a more open, participatory model of EU membership. Rather than Europe being “over there” we can get more out of our membership if citizens, NGOs, local and regional government are plugged in and active. As a Londoner I focused on the needs of ordinary Londoners but I gladly take the point that other parts of the UK should be equally involved. The main point is to avoid thinking everything has to go through central government.

      The Franco-German axis is very visible but in my view it’s weight can be overestimated. Britain has had huge influence, for example on enlargement, the single market and foreign policy. As ever, membership is what you make of it which is why the ongoing debate on our EU membership is a big opportunity.

      It would be a trap for Labour to buy the Tory mantra of “national interest” above all else. It flies against our internationalism and it doesn’t help deal with the main issues flowing from globalisation. Instead Labour should strive for progressive alliances in the EU as a strategic partner against the austerity madness.

  • TomFairfax

    Silicone Roundabout? The mind boggles.
    As for Silicon Roundabout in Shoreditch. Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear. Another of the political class who hasn’t the faintest idea about technology. Substitute with Cambridge and it’s environs and that bit of your text would at least seem credible.
    However, much more inportant for a knowledge based economy is protection of the intellectual property that results, and currently the Business dept in Whitehall continues with the agenda set originally by Mandelson to rob people and businesses of the fruits of their investment, if it’s inconvenient for media moguls and Google. A situation where Europe is certainly more sensible than Whitehall is currently. Unless of course Labour decides it wants to help Britain and not those who want Chinese copies, or avoid Google and the BBC paying for the works they use.

  • TomFairfax

    Silicone Roundabout? The mind boggles.
    As for Silicon Roundabout in Shoreditch. Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear. Another of the political class who hasn’t the faintest idea about technology. Substitute with Cambridge and it’s environs and that bit of your text would at least seem credible.
    However, much more inportant for a knowledge based economy is protection of the intellectual property that results, and currently the Business dept in Whitehall continues with the agenda set originally by Mandelson to rob people and businesses of the fruits of their investment, if it’s inconvenient for media moguls and Google. A situation where Europe is certainly more sensible than Whitehall is currently. Unless of course Labour decides it wants to help Britain and not those who want Chinese copies, or avoid Google and the BBC paying for the works they use.

  • TomFairfax

    Silicone Roundabout? The mind boggles.
    As for Silicon Roundabout in Shoreditch. Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear. Another of the political class who hasn’t the faintest idea about technology. Substitute with Cambridge and it’s environs and that bit of your text would at least seem credible.
    However, much more inportant for a knowledge based economy is protection of the intellectual property that results, and currently the Business dept in Whitehall continues with the agenda set originally by Mandelson to rob people and businesses of the fruits of their investment, if it’s inconvenient for media moguls and Google. A situation where Europe is certainly more sensible than Whitehall is currently. Unless of course Labour decides it wants to help Britain and not those who want Chinese copies, or avoid Google and the BBC paying for the works they use.

  • TomFairfax

    Silicone Roundabout? The mind boggles.
    As for Silicon Roundabout in Shoreditch. Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear. Another of the political class who hasn’t the faintest idea about technology. Substitute with Cambridge and it’s environs and that bit of your text would at least seem credible.
    However, much more inportant for a knowledge based economy is protection of the intellectual property that results, and currently the Business dept in Whitehall continues with the agenda set originally by Mandelson to rob people and businesses of the fruits of their investment, if it’s inconvenient for media moguls and Google. A situation where Europe is certainly more sensible than Whitehall is currently. Unless of course Labour decides it wants to help Britain and not those who want Chinese copies, or avoid Google and the BBC paying for the works they use.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      I made a similar comment about not knowing the difference in between silicone and Silicon, not fact checking the text before submittal, and how as a result the intellectual argument advanced lacked credibility. But it seems to have been “disappeared”.

    • AlanGiles

      Regarding “Silicone” (sic) Roundabout. It would seem that it has shrunk. In 1987, I clearly remember talk of the “Silicon Corridor” – being the M4 (or was it A4?), so we have gone from a corridor which can be quite large, to a roundabout at the corner of Old Street.

      Perhaps in 10 years time there will be a couple of little workshops left in Aldgate and they will call it “Silicon Alley”.

      But Tom is right, it seems harder to patent ideas in the UK and the laws on copyright infringement are very lax.

      • TomFairfax

        Don’t forget Silicon Glen as well, or Swindon at the end of the M4 corridor where the money was made. All based on inward investment, but foreign ownership so when the going got tough the multinationals got going.

    • Dave Postles

      Some of the paradoxes are: (a) the success of the LSE ultimately depended on an OS which had been pioneered as a ‘community’ project, with support from some commercial organizations as subscribers; the LSE was in trouble using its commercial OS and was stabilized when it adopted Linux; (b) so much of the current developments depends on embedded Linux; (c) the ARM chip has benefited enormously from Linux.

      • TomFairfax

        Yes it has, but you’ll find the ARM core in safety systems for years that have their own real time OS. It’s not all phones cosumer goods. Sad though how the politicians continually ignore proven success and a centre with critical mass, when they can be photographed with glitzy young nontrepreneurs in London.

  • JoeDM

    Seems to me that Labour seems to be drifting to an even more pro-EU stance.

    I wonder what Ed’s policy will be when the further influx of of EU immigrants starts hitting the front pages?

  • http://www.facebook.com/martin.shapely Martin Shapely

    Personally I m sick to death of Britain only existing within the M25. Everythng “national” is in London. It is high time we pursued a federal system of government and took politics closer to the people and away from this elitist centralised monopoly. But of course the royals live there so that isn’t likely to happen .

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