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Never Mind Scotland, Where Is London's Independence Referendum?

06/04/2014 15:51 BST | Updated 06/06/2014 10:59 BST

Independence is in the air. Scotland is going to the polls, Venice has already voted overwhelmingly in favour and no doubt the Basque and Catalan regions are itching to follow suit soon enough. But London remains curiously quiet. Sure, in 2012 Ken Livingstone stated unequivocally that he wanted to "declare independence"; but then he lost the election, and was probably just speaking tongue-in-cheek anyway. Recently, Vice asked Dr James Ker-Lindsay, a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics if it was possible for London to break away. The answer was yes, but it wouldn't be too simple. So should London change it's relationship to "it's complicated" with the rest of the UK? Probably better to leave the party while it's still fun than be left in the rump of a nation after Scotland has headed off?

But I hear you cry "Scotland was an independent nation for centuries between around 843 and 1707, and Venice was an independent state from around the seventh century right up 1797, whereas London has pretty much been at the heart of England since its foundation!" But, whilst I'm impressed by your recollection of historical dates without resorting to Wikipedia, I would argue that there have also been historical precedents for London too. In the 12th Century Londoners kicked back against the regime, shouting 'Londoners shall have no king but their mayor!' It may not surprise that the king at that time, Richard I, was at the time engaged in an expensive and unpopular war in the Middle East. Then, when John came to the throne, the citizens of London insisted that they would only accept him as king if he recognised that London had the right to form a self-governing self-elected city state. This is why the Magna Carta states: 'The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water.' So the Magna Carta basically says we should be independent, guys.

Historical argument overwhelmingly proven, what about the socio-economic ones? Well, in terms of national identity, the label 'British' is an amorphous term that hyphenates easily to all different backgrounds whether it be British-Indian or British-Irish in a way that 'English' with its racial overtones does not. A third of current Londoners were born in another country. And with two-thirds of babies born in the capital having one foreign parent, perhaps it is easier to identify with the label of Londoner than that of a true-born Englishman. London belongs to the world and not to England. Once Scotland has broken away, those that originated there can be known as London-Scottish, but English-Scottish? It's a contradiction in terms.

Economically, the gulf between London and the rest of the country is huge. As Evan Davies' Mind The Gap documentary pointed out: London generates over a fifth of the country's income from just 15% of the workforce; productivity per hour is 29% higher in London than the UK average. In property terms, the average home in London is now worth twice the amount of one anywhere else in the country. But these figures aren't just an assertion of London's continually burgeoning economy but also point to some serious problems in the future. With house prices going so insane, ordinary Londoners are being totally priced out of the market, whilst Russian oligarchs buy up mansions to leave them empty. These are problems unique to London (I don't imagine Abramovich owns a pied-à-terre in Preston) and need to be dealt with by a London administration with bite.

Just for a moment, allow Londoners to dream of the Republic of London that Livingstone heralded. As our newly-elected Doge Boris floats down the Thames in a parade of boats, the citizens line the waterway. They've been enjoying affordable housing as the government have been able to build more and put in place rent controls. Some of them are even lucky enough to be living in the newly-vacated Whitehall and palaces of Buckingham and Westminster as the UK government were turfed out of their cosy offices for an industrial estate outside Birmingham. Like Singapore, London operates as a city-state, and takes its rightful place as the capital of the world. Perhaps this is all getting ahead of itself. When I googled this subject, it brought up a twitter account arguing for London's independence called @indyLDN which has an underwhelming total of 12 followers.