When I write about the ethnic segregation that has occurred in towns in northern England, I often get responses from the metropolitan set in London about how such a phenomenon could never happen there. Ken ‘I don’t live on this planet’ Livingstone, it’s less-than-esteemed Mayor, likes to promote diversity as one of the capital’s great selling points (hilarious!). London has a foreign-born population comprising 31% of the total, a figure surpassed only by New York, Miami, Sydney and Singapore; its non-white population is 27%.
However, when you look at the maps of Greater London, you see that ethnic segregation is as real in the capital as it is elsewhere, with immigrant communities overwhelmingly concentrated in the city’s inner core, whilst those classified as ‘white British’ occupy the suburban periphery. What the maps do not show are those areas of the metropolis that lie outside the Greater London administrative boundary, but which nevertheless form part of London’s urban sprawl. The Surrey ‘Stockbroker Belt’ (towns bordering the boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Kingston, Richmond, Hounslow and Hillingdon) has seen its population increase by over 200,000 in the last decade. It is now possible to drive from the centre of London to places such as Leatherhead and Woking (25 and 35 miles respectively) without passing through any Green Belt land whatsoever. As the towns on the periphery are overwhelmingly ‘white British’ and fed by a steady stream of migrants from the capital’s indigenous population, it is reasonable to assume that London is not only segregated, but becoming more so as the years pass on.
So please, don’t label northerners as parochial. It seems the desire not to live in communities rapidly losing any semblance of British identity is not something that is confined to those who live outside the M25.