Can we create a livelier, denser England by dumping Lancashire? Yes we can, says Ian Martin
Monday The time has come. After decades of campaigning for a fairer, less Londonist England, the Tamworth League is taking it to the next level. We’re fielding candidates in the forthcoming General Election.
League chairman Hrothgar Thundershield has called an emergency meeting in a secret conference centre location ‘somewhere in middle England’. He summarises our struggle, which now spans two centuries. Our aim: to reinstate the ancient capital of Tamworth as the rightful administrative and cultural nexus of a resurgent, tolerant ‘Cool Anglia’.
‘Ugh, it has been hard,’ growls Hrothgar. ‘Betrayed by that lying shit Blair, toyed with by the popinjay Obama, we now accept that the future is in our hands alone.’ Then he wipes mead-froth from his huge beard, bangs the table and dismisses us into the night. I have a secret mission that I cannot divulge at the moment.
Yeah, come on, the Tamworth League. If fascists and pirates can be taken seriously by the Today programme, so can we be.
Tuesday Working on the manifesto. Once we’ve established Tamworth as the capital of England, its population will multiply by a factor of 10 in five years. A powerful combination of global warming, the magnetic attraction of creative industries and common sense will make it the go-to, world-class capital of the world-class world.
Economic stimulus, Gordon Brown, you dozy tosser? You had your chance to push through a radical programme of capital redistribution. You chose to keep the capital exactly where it’s been since Norman times. Because London as a capital has always suited the French? Idiot. Fine, you stay with the bankers and wankers of the Square Mile. Now watch property prices in the Tamworth area shoot up. And gaze in despair as a new generation of oligarchs – with wives their own age, ethical portfolios and much nicer clothes – flock to Tamworth’s alternative ‘Hip Hectare’.
Wednesday Lot of chatter on Twitter between members of the Tamworth League’s manifesto steering committee. Everyone very interested in the US model of shrinking cities to survive. Places like Flint, Michigan, are seriously thinking about razing entire neighbourhoods to preserve residential density.
We take their points about dwindling tax bases, expensive road maintenance, etc. But we have two caveats: 1. The notion of ‘giving back to Nature’ and 2. The scale of shrinkage.
On the first point, there must be no sentimental attachment to Nature. For a start, don’t expect any gratitude. Nature is simply part of a ruthless, profit-making terrestrial ecosystem. Oh yes, Nature is a voracious consumer of abandoned land, but she is grudging when it comes to edible fruit and animals. We need to find a way of leasing land back to Nature.
On the second point, shrinking individual cities here and there is exactly the sort of piecemeal, small-minded approach that has held this great country back since Mercia was swindled out of its managerial role in the 9th century.
Let’s face it, however many people gravitate to Greater Tamworth, there will still be vast swathes of underpopulation in the North. Better to think big. I suggest we abandon Lancashire, thus intensifying the rest of England. It wouldn’t take that long for it to revert to its ‘natural state’ – salt marshland, damp fells and impenetrable forest. The chances of having an agreeable night at the theatre followed by a decent meal would be about the same.
There’s some resistance. My fellow committee members are uneasy about dumping an entire county. Fair enough, I say. Give me three things worth saving Lancashire for. Yeah, right. They’ll ‘get back to me’.
Thursday So that’s goodbye, Lancashire, then. Now, on with my next idea, the compulsory unionisation of architects.
Friday Manifesto pledge: a massive programme of council housing, overseen by the National Union of Architects, who will all wear boiler suits. Half will be women. Half will be ethnic minority. A quarter will be gay. One will be an insufferable ponce banging on about epic space – there’s always one, isn’t there? But he’d better watch it, because once you’re out of the NUA, it’ll be difficult to get back in. Like Woolworths, it’s a closed shop.
Saturday Struggling to agree an election slogan. ‘Back to the 8th Century’ doesn’t have much of a ring.
Sunday Eschew recliner. On a secret mission to meet the mayor of London, and hoodwink him…