Westminster – Too Big for its Houses

This post might be coming late. I was planning to write one shortly after the outcome of the independence referendum in Scotland but I felt like I needed to give myself some time to wind down now that mood has lightened and the chaos is over. I would like to thank the Scots for staying in the Union and I hope that this has unveiled some radical thinking on the future of Great Britain and it’s political structure. I still think about the good old times I was in Scotland and I hope to come back some day and live there. I love it there so much I was warmed by it’s cosy, friendly atmosphere. However even though the celebrations went on through the early hours there was quite a riot in the aftermath with unionists and separatists getting into a fight in Glasgow. That was an ugly sight I never thought I would see from British Scots and Nationalist Scots. I wanted to tell my fellow Brits this is not how we show victory by reminding the locals of who their masters are, we do it by celebrating the best of our culture and our strength of passion. If I had been there I would have got into a friendly mood with my Nationalist friends and shared some ideas with them about how we can think of the better in ourselves as part of the United Kingdom. There was however one thing that came out of this referendum that deserves our attention: a call for an English Parliament and a chance to put Westminster in it’s proper place.

Now one of the reasons for the call for this referendum in the first place was because the SNP, Alex Salmond and the majority of the Scottish people had spent the last 300 hundred years politically unified with a rule from London that included unification with England, Wales and Ireland. I’ve already written about a little history of union where it was created by alternating generations of monarchies and revolutionaries from across all four of the home nations. Well gradually throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century the people of the home nations have got an unfair deal from being ruled down south where the wealth gap is concerned. That wealth gap is even felt a lot closer to Westminster where I live in Hornchurch, Essex. Now if I had the power I would have Hornchurch effectively break away from Westminster and Greater London. When I went up to Glasgow I told everyone that I came from Hornchurch, Essex and that I was an Essex man. I actually got quite a shine taken to me from the people up there who had probably seen that county popularised in the media often enough. However I’m not actually an Essex boy at all, I was born and raised in Whitechapel, East London until I was 15. The family moved to Hornchurch when we bought our first house in 1999. Little did I know that although we had become suburban folk now we were not properly in Essex. Hornchurch is in a borough controlled by the Greater London Authority making the capital look bigger than it actually is. In the years after the Second World War the population in the inner cities of London and the surrounding counties was in decline. Many of the people who had been evacuated or had their homes bombed relocated out towards the suburbs and the surrounding counties of Middlesex, Kent, Essex, Surry and Herts. To manage the housing and accommodation of the people of London into these new housing programmes that were to transform London a new local government was established called the Greater London Council (which was dissolved in 1986). This new Greater London incorporated and absorbed councils from the surrounding counties, effectively turning Hornchurch into a London Borough called Havering. Coming from Havering in Scotland sounds embarrassing when I go there now, because in Scotland the word ‘havering’ means ‘talking gibberish’. When you haver, you are talking rubbish. Rest assured though when I talk from Havering, Essex I am not talking rubbish, I am one of the smart ones from this county. I am the Grand Geek of Essex.

Being in a London borough does come with some heavy burdens as there are some people who feel like they are living an expensive lifestyle. I once spoke to my neighbour about this and he reckons that if Hornchurch wasn’t in a London borough then he would have cheaper rates for his business. The cost of goods and commodities are quite high around here as they are tied to Greater London. For some people around here London is up town, whereas those who live further east in Southend and Colchester think of Chelmsford as the centre of Essex. Chelmsford even got rightfully titled as a city when it was granted this accolade in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee from the monarchy. I would feel more like an Essex man if Westminster allowed Havering to function as an Essex borough than an oversized chunk of East London. The people here would rather be comparable to Brentwood and Chelmsford, not Hackney and East Ham. Incidentally West Ham is home to Stratford, where the 2012 Olympic Games took place and that used to be part of Essex too. So I suppose you could say that the 2012 Games were a joint London-Essex Games.

Well I am now stuck for words and I can’t put anything into perspective now. Talking about how big London really is has made me unable to write any more. I miss Scotland and considering how far my luck has gone down here since I got back from Glasgow, I wish I could move back up there. Life down here hasn’t got anything to offer. I really need to move away from London/Essex. But what could I do to make it happen? I’ll save my ideas for an English Parliament for another post.

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