In Cities, Creativity, Defining and Measuring

I moved from the GLA to the LDA in 2006. I did not realise it at the time, but it was already dead. The problem, which ultimately played a significant role in Ken Livingstone’s defeat in an utterly racist campaign run by Boris Johnson and his Australian mercenaries, was that the LDA was a servant of two masters. It was part of an unwieldy structure of ‘Development Agencies’ under the jurisdiction of some upper echelon of the UK government, but at the same time part of the ‘Greater London Family’ or ‘Greater London Group’ of agencies that actually ran London, and which as part of the Blair project, were carefully organised so that the Mayor’s direct power over them was limited to the appointment of their bosses. While at the LDA I was privileged to work with many people who actually had a better vision of the way London could be revived than their counterparts in the GLA, but whose powers were limited to giving grants and propagandising.

The LDA, bless its cotton socks, conceived of the idea that in order to decide who to give grants to, it should determine a series of ‘sectors’ of the London economy such as Life Sciences, …. and the creative industries. The problem was that the statisticians who construct the national accounts had already determined, in the era of Bazalgatte, how the economy should be divided up into sectors or, as Marx had it ‘branches of the division of labour’. The result was a battle of wills in which, inevitably, the civil servants won and the people lost.

This presentation consists of a piece of sticking plaster I offered, based on the work I did at the GLA on the creative industries. It had the lasting effect of providing serious collaborations with many people who knew a lot more about humans, but unfortunately less about politicians, than the mandarins.

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