Danny Dorling spoke to Socialist Worker about his new book 32 Stops and what the Central Line tells us about the growing inequality in Britain today
The London Undergound is 150 years old this year and to celebrate Penguin has published a set of 12 books, one for each line.
Danny Dorling, professor for the public understanding of social science at Sheffield University, has written the Central Line book called 32 Stops.
It tells the stories of people living along the line.
The book opens with a couple discussing the census they have to fill in and why they chose to live in West Ruislip. It neatly captures the middle class obsessions of “good” schools and who the neighbours are.
Danny told Socialist Worker, “Life expectancy falls on average six months between each station along the line—but it is not a smooth ride down, more like a roller coaster.
“This is a reflection on class society and inequality in Britain.”
The Central Line opened in 1911—the same year as the first modern census. This was the first census to record details of living conditions, main employer and how many families lived in the house.
“The right wing of the Tory party wants to get rid of the census because in a privatised country you don’t need a census,” said Danny. “They hate the idea of the state taking responsibility for what’s occurring.”
Danny pointed out that problems such as the housing crisis aren’t about there being too few houses.
“As wealth inequalities widen the rich buy up more space,” he said.
“You could build millions of new homes but if some people get two or three homes there will still be overcrowding.
“London already has more bedrooms than people—in Camden there are 7,000 properties that are either empty or second homes.
“There are millions of empty properties across Britain. So the idea of new homes is secondary to the organisation of society and how we share.
“People need shelter, food, a local school and health care.
“We need to work out what the basic guarantee is to get rid of fear.
“A universal guarantee is entirely affordable.”
Danny added, “There are lots of cuts we could make—cuts to the arms trade, military escapades and nuclear missiles.”