Robin Hood a Northerner

24 Oct 2007 by Karl Hallam

Professor Danny Dorling was on Radio 4's Today programme again talking about a new North South dividing line. It suggests that Nottingham is in the North and that Robin Hood was a Northerner. The fact that much of Danny's work, including that done with Cadence, deals with the impacts of inequality leads us to believe that this map is proof at last that taking from the rich to give to the poor was a sound Northern idea.

Danny has also of course been on the radio recently talking about inheritance tax which, putting the moral aspect aside, is something that is much more of an issue in the Southern 'marginals' rather than the North. The interface between Government's desire to develop the most efficient measures to achive public policy goals (eg reduce child poverty) and what the public 'feel', from polling and focus groups (eg hate inheritance tax even if no chance of ever having enough money to pay it), is certainly interesting at the moment.

Cadence's work on social innovation suggests that some great ideas and projects don't transfer in the way that their creators hoped they would when Government takes them on partly because they become watered down to make them more acceptable to whoever the Government is worrried about keeping on side at that time.

A good example is Sustrans' Safe Routes to School initiative which would have and would be making much more of an impact if John Prescott's promise to reduce car usage had been acted upon, rather than the apparent cave in to a vociferous 'motorist' lobby every time the world oil price went up.

Let's hope that highlighting the persistent North-South divide will help politicians have more confidence in their convictions. If nothing else the map will promote debate about inequality and kept The Guardian's Simon Jenkins' blood pressure high.


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