Socialist Worker

BBC's Mind The Gap: bosses’ toady sees a gap, but not the one that counts

by Tom Kay
Issue No. 2393

Dragon’s Den presenter Evan Davis goes from the manager’s entrance at Battersea Power Station to the first class check-in of Liverpool’s dilapidated docks. He looks at the question of a north-south divide from the comfortable position of the boardroom.

He argues Britain is polarised between regions. London gets a fifth of all income and 40 percent of total economic output. The programme heavily implies there’s a recovery underway there too. But who is it for?

Davis shows us luxury apartments galore.

In Mayfair he visits an eight bedroom, three bathroom house which the estate agent says will likely sell for millions then be used for only 30 days a year.

Davis pays no attention to the austerity suffered by the majority in Britain—Londoners included. How did London get this way? Davis calls it Agglomeration Economics, the clustering of businesses in a small geographical area.

He says it encourages a collaborative approach. That’s a bizarre way to look at a system built on competition. But pulling together huge numbers of workers does help them collaborate—as in the Tube strikes that cause havoc for London’s bosses.

At the same time, Davis looks at the decline of northern England from its former might as a global centre of industry. This decline was made faster and harsher by Margaret Thatcher’s attacks on jobs.

When Davis says “market forces” made it inevitable, he lets vicious politicians off the hook. For him the solution is to try and copy London, making Manchester a “super-hub” with cities from Liverpool to Leeds as its “spokes”. 

Whether or not this works for bosses, it certainly won’t for workers. 

We need to fight for a share of any growth, and for a system that doesn’t abandon lives and places to economic ruin.

MIND THE GAP: London vs the rest, on BBC2 and BBC iPlayer, with Evan Davis

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Tue 4 Mar 2014, 18:55 GMT
Issue No. 2393
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