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Majority of Britons are proud of London as a capital city

The majority of people in Britain have pride in London as a capital city according to the latest poll conducted for the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London.

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A majority of people living outside of London (56 per cent) say they have pride in London “as the capital city of the United Kingdom” according to a YouGov poll commissioned by the Mile End Institute and Centre for London. 28 per cent said that they were not proud of the capital.

In London itself the figure was even higher with 80 per cent saying that they were proud of their city. Despite this, the polling, commissioned to deepen understandings of how the capital's relations to the rest of the country have changed in recent years, found expressions of pride differed among the rest of the UK.

North-South divide

Expressions of pride in London dropped significantly in Scotland and Wales. Only 39 per cent of people in Scotland still say they are proud of London as the capital city with 44 per cent in Wales.

The figure for northern England also revealed disparities. 51 per cent of people in the North say they are proud of London whilst 31 per cent said they were not proud.

The view from outside London

London is seen as expensive and inaccessible by the majority of people. 47 per cent of non-Londoners think the city is “expensive” with 43 per cent viewing it as “crowded”. 20 per cent of people viewed the capital as “chaotic” whilst another 20 per cent saw the city as “diverse”.

A huge majority of respondents, 78 per cent, said that they did not think that living and working in London was “a realistic option for people like me”. 53 per cent said that it was “not realistic at all”.

The poll also found that while people think that London benefits the national economy overall, they do not think it benefits their local area directly. Only 16 per cent think that London contributes either “a lot” or “a fair amount” to their local economy. A clear majority (77 per cent) of people who live outside London think that the city contributes either “a lot” or “a fair amount” to the UK economy as a whole.

Philip Cowley, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London and Director of the Mile End Institute, said: “Most people think London delivers for the UK’s economy – they just don’t think it delivers for them.”

Public still support London as the centre for institutions

Despite skepticism outside of London about the impact of the city on local economics, most people did not support moving institutions out of the capital to rebalance the economy.

When presented with a list of 10 institutions that could be moved out of London including media, royalty, government, galleries, the top choice for non-Londoners was “None – I don’t think moving anything out of London would make the UK fairer ” (40 per cent). Another 12 per cent said they did not know.

Of those who did select an institution to move, the most popular option was government departments, but it was selected by fewer than one in five people (19 per cent). Parliament was second, chosen by 14 per cent.

Dr Jack Brown, Senior Researcher at Centre for London, said: “Brits might be proud of London, but too many people feel excluded from the city. With public support for the decentralisation agenda dwindling, we need radical ideas to ensure London is spreading prosperity and rebuilding relations with the rest of the country.”

Further information

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample sizes were 1218 in London and 1883 in the rest of GB. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3-6 September 2018. The survey was carried out online.

The figures have been weighted and are representative of London adults and GB adults outside London (aged 18+) respectively. YouGov are a member of the British Polling Council and abide by their rules. The rest of GB data can be found online here and London data here.