On the day of his inauguration as Mayor of London, Livingstone played the 
populist card by claiming that every Londoner, man, woman, and child, pays 
50 a week in subsidy to other parts of the country.

This amounts to over 19 billion per year.

Livingstone is good at popularising statistics and the arithmetic no doubt 
backs him. However the argument is in essence chauvinistic.

It is similar to the argument that the rich developed countries have the 
greatest financial stake in the IMF and in the United Nations and should 
therefore have a disproportionate influence on the world economy.

London and the South East of England is overwhelmingly the richest part of 
England, although there are islands of poverty. It illustrates the economic 
concept of regional city centred economic zones which form the basis of the 
European Union's economic planning.

The volume of commercial traffic may be greatest at the centre, and 
therefore the wealth greatest, but the regional market must be considered 
as a whole. Without the large poorer penumbra there would be a much smaller 
market for the centre to sell to, and exploit. Without a pool of cheaper 
labour moving gradually towards the centre, wage costs would rise more 
rapidly and cut the upturn short each time in the capitalist upturn. The 
law of value must be interpreted dynamically in the economic area as a whole.

Without a concept of the non-equilibrium nature of regional economies, and 
indeed the global economy, the left will be vulnerable to the sort of 
populist interventions of people like Ken Livingstone.

Chris Burford


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