onsdag 23 augusti 2006

What happened to civic pride in Britain?

County Hall, London

County Hall, on the south bank of the Thames, was built about 100 years ago to accommodate the London County Council, which was formed in 1888 to bring order to the government of London, which had been run by a disparate collection of joint boards. Unfortunately, from the 1930s onwards, it was consistently Labour, which was not good for the democratic process and led to clashes when there was a Conservative government, as there was in the period before World War 2 and again from 1951 till 1965. The growth of London meant that much of the conurbation was outside the LCC's jurisdiction, so it was abolished and as part of a wider reorganisation of London government, the Greater London Council was established.

Eventually, this too became consistently Labour, and in the early 1980s there was endless conflict between Ken Livingstone, Leader of the GLC, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. So it was abolished in 1986 and replace by joint committees from the London Boroughs.

Of course, the building was a desirable piece of real estate and was sold off, to become a hotel, with various retail outlets on the ground floor. It would have been better if they had knocked the building down, but at least this way, it is clear how far the country has fallen. Margaret Thatcher famously said that there was no such thing as society, and now her statement has come true, so what better way to prove it than this?

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