A few years ago, the Economist described the north of England as effectively “another country,” its culture defined by “islands of affluence in a sea of poverty.”

This, in turn, leads to sharpening differences in how place and nationhood are experienced, and what sorts of cultural narratives seem credible. Here is Oxfam in a report about the price of austerity in the UK, from three years ago already:
As the UK returns to growth, this will not be cause for celebration for the bulk of the population, as it is accompanied by rising levels of insecure work, high unemployment and the destruction of mechanisms to reduce poverty and lower inequality. Far from a shift towards more inclusive growth, austerity will increase inequality in what is already one of the most unequal developed countries, in which the richest continue to gain disproportionately from new growth.

On the other hand, London, heretofore arguably the world’s finance and art capital, has been on the winning end of that particular neoliberal equation. (Though as in New York, inequality has nasty side effects in terms of the cost of living.)

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