In 1284, two boys were paid 4d for clearing nettles for Edward’s tents on Ynys Enlli. I’d happily hack away some brambles. Osborne and the like can pitch tent in my neck of the woods.
The countryside receives a trickle-down taste of city glamour from weekending DFLs (as Down From London folk are called in these parts) but feels patronised and invisible. A people who don’t see themselves in government or media stop engaging with both.
I live near a station 10 minutes from Norwich that is surrounded by fields and used by just 35 people each day. Instead of planning a sustainable suburb around this ghostly facility, the austerity-strapped county council is part-funding a dual carriageway “road to nowhere” a mile away to enable new car-choked housing estates.
David Cameron in 2015. ‘Just one in five new roads demonstrates evidence of economic benefit, and that is weak.’ Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty
When I trek, bumpkin-like, to the Guardian’s London office, I gaze at the lavish modernised tube stations and Crossrail. Norwich’s out-of-town hospital opened in 2001 within a mile and a half of a railway, but no new station was built. In fact, Norfolk hasn’t had a new railway station for 25 years.
Insularity is viewed as a characteristic of isolated villages, but Westminster suffers from it too. Policymakers would find their groupthink challenged by sessions in Truro, Newcastle, Cardiff, Belfast or Glasgow (optimistically assuming that Scotland is still with us).
By 2023, Britain’s political landscape will be transformed. Brexit will be complete, Scotland may have departed, and there will be no hiding place for our political class.