I had to check the location of a town yesterday and went to Google maps. Zoomed in on the UK and had to do a double take. To the west of London a new city had emerged according to Google. It was called “Town Centre”.
I know the current government in the UK are planning to build a few new ‘garden cities’ as they call them, but I wasn’t aware they were sharing the details with Google already. One can never be ready enough, huh?
This gaffe by Google highlights the issue the UK (and some other EU countries) is facing at the moment. The influx of immigrants and the pulling power of London (playground of the largest number of billionaires in one city) has resulted in a booming population, rapidly rising property prices and overtime for recruiters.
The rest of the UK appears to be a different country from the South-East. The South-East is bustling and there is a lot of energy around, whereas the outside the South-East things slow down to a much slower pace.
This is reflected in the number of job opportunities as well. In the South-East there is a shortage of qualified staff developing again, whereas in the rest of the UK unemployment levels can be really high in places.
Go to places such as Barrow-in-Furness, Preston or Hull and you think you’re in a different country. Many places in the more Northern parts of the UK still have not recovered from the demise of heavy industry in the 1980’s. Towns are run down, life expectancy is lower than average, people can’t find decent jobs and you can buy houses for next to nothing as nobody wants to live there and have moved down south. Often these places are run by councils dominated by ideology driven politicians, making things even worse.
On a European scale you can see the same thing happening. Countries such as Austria, Germany, Holland, Denmark and Switzerland are starting to prosper again and are facing an influx of people from Southern European areas (and beyond) looking for work. It doesn’t help that, like in the UK, certain parts of Europe are run by people who find ideology more important than finding the right solution for the problems they’re facing.
This has resulted in a surge of far right demagogues all over Europe, as people are increasingly frustrated by the ineffective way their lives are being run by politicians not up to the job. In Europe, as in the UK, politicians have no vision anymore, talk in sound bites, are worried about their image and the short term prospect of losing their jobs, rather than telling honestly what the situation is and what they plan to do about it, even if it stretches beyond their term in office. They’re still peddling images of rosy futures no one believes in anymore.
The forthcoming elections in Europe won’t change a thing. Yes, the far right will collect an astonishing number of protest votes, but the power will still be in the hands of a central committee of country leaders (United Soviet States of Europe?), who were not directly elected to be there. And they preside over a machinery in Brussels who have no idea what the local issues are, as they are too far removed from the real world, resulting in legislation “that is good for the people” but which is largely ignored by people who are infuriated by the stupidity of it all.
Europe will never become the world power it wants to be unless it reforms itself into a smoothly operated ‘country’ where people can realise their dreams without being bogged down by red tape and self interested politicians. No wonder people like Putin take the mickey out of Europe and do whatever they want. They know Europe is powerless.
Perhaps people should vote for Google to reorganise Europe? (That’ll really be a big brother scenario….)
Despite all this, Europe is a great place to live and work, regardless of the huge mess the political class creates.