News that it could take decades and several billion pounds of our money to restore the Houses of Parliament provides our country with a great opportunity – but I doubt that any of our leaders are bold enough to take it. My plan? Our politicians should hand over the site to English Heritage to be run as a tourist attraction. If it falls into the Thames in the process, so much the better. One of their more spectacular properties, Goodrich Castle (below), looks so much better in ruins today than it probably ever did when it was occupied.
A modern parliament could then be built on the partly cleared land (or perhaps on the site of the hideous QEII Conference Centre) at a fraction of the cost of restoring what is, by many impartial accounts and my own limited experience, a building totally unfit for its purpose. But of course, that would only make sense if you thought that our lawmakers had to be in London. They don’t, of course.
If our leaders were really smart, they’d move the whole machinery of government to the Midlands. It would have a positive impact on the political establishment and the civil service. The remaining citizens of London would benefit too, as such a move would ease the pressure on housing, office space, a creaking transport infrastructure (just think – we wouldn’t need a new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow if we made better use of the Birmingham, Coventry and East Midlands Airports) and everything else that is in short supply, stupendously expensive or highly subsidised in the capital. And, of course, it would bring much-needed investment to the part of the country that is forever ignored by the metropolitan elites from the South and North of the UK.
Would anyone like to tell me why I’m wrong? Because you’ll need to have a far more convincing argument than any I’ve seen so far from the vested interests concerned to preserve the status quo.