The UK is probably the most centralised of all modern countries. Even after devolution, 87% of our taxes are levied at the national level. In the US it's 18%. In the rest of Europe taxes are levied roughly half by the national governments and half locally. Where the taxes are collected goes economic and political power. I remember reading some years ago that Washington DC had the highest per-capita wages in the US and that most of them were dependent in some way on the federal government. That's in a country levying a mere 18% of taxation at the centre.The only bit that needs changing after four years is that government now spends more than 40% of our GDP and the consequences are presumably worse.
A very large part of London's economy is there precisely because it is the capital city of a country whose government spends some 40% of our GDP and whose London-resident ministers channel almost all of that expenditure through the London-based civil service. This in turn means that London hosts the national press (English, not British actually), the BBC, commercial TV, media-associated industries like advertising and PR, the political parties, almost all lobbyists, charities, trades unions and professional organisations. This centralisation of decision makers and influencers in turn makes London the natural location for the head offices of companies whose operations are spread throughout Britain. All of this is why the South-east dominates our economy and why it is impossible to solve the imbalances in housing and transport.
If we want to see a more economically balanced Britain we can either reduce government expenditure to, say, 10% of GDP, or we can spread government more evenly throughout the country. I support the first option. I suspect that neither will be implemented.
Readers may remember that I've done this analysis before. It shows the number of jobs per region in the current journal of a UK-wide professional body. These vacancies are almost all in the private sector:
London 52So, 70% of the UK jobs are in London and 85% are in London plus the Southeast.
West Midlands 4
East Midlands 0
Northern Ireland 0
There may be a "Scottish Raj" but the UK still has a very bottom heavy economy. Needless to say, I still think that the answer is to eliminate almost all of the state's activities.
(UPDATE: a commentator writes:
is there not, though, a link between your figures here and the population density of the areas. england makes up near 90% of the uk's population with around 75% of that being south of the midlands area. it's no surprise that the jobs are where the people are..I've done a further analysis based on the 2001 census:
London: population share 12.2%; job share 70.3%
Southeast population share 13.6%; job share 14.9%
East: population share 9.2%; job share 1.4%
Southwest: population share 8.4%; job share 2.7%
West Midlands: population share 9%; job share 5.4%
East Midlands: population share 7.1%; job share NIL
Wales: population share 4.9%; job share NIL
Yorkshire: population share 8.4%; job share 1.3%
Northwest: population share 11.4%; job share 2.7%
Northeast: population share 4.3%; job share NIL
Scotland: population share 8.6%; job share 1.3%
Northern Ireland: population share 2.9%; job share NIL)