Brian Paddick was absolutely right in his condemnation of Ken Livingstone’s insane policy to destroy London’s skyline with tall, inhuman, glass monuments to the vanity of architects and the greed of corporations.
I was pleased and relieved that he did, having wondered rather what he thought on the issue. But why do politicians, and Liberal Democrats in particular, leave themselves so open to the charge of empty-headed bandwagon-jumping?
If we just say we agree with the furore about tall buildings, will anyone remember? Of course not. If they do remember, will they believe it derives from a distinctively Lib Dem analysis? Definitely not – any more than they do when we get excited about post office closures.
Brian badly needs to explain the background, explain why we are concerned, and why Ken is making such a mistake. Because the Mayor’s policy is currently the old-fashioned socialist objective of growing London’s population by an extra million, squeezed somehow into these glass towers. That is the explanation for the enthusiasm for skyscrapers, and the constantly repeated instructions to developers to make them higher. Read the LDA’s London Plan, and you’ll see.
What we need to do is to condemn this for what it is: short-sighted, selfish sucking of population and resources into an already over-crowded city, at the expense of our sanity, green spaces and traditionally human-scale city. I queued for 20 minutes just to get out of Leicester Square tube station recently. Goodness knows what it will be like with Ken’s extra million – people don’t stay in their towers, you see.
So, for goodness sake, let’s make these connections. Let’s go for a coherent critique – on this and other issues. Let’s raise the level of debate to a higher moral plane (not just whether London looks pretty or not). Otherwise it’s all so forgettable.