It’s no secret that the financial meltdown has hurt London and the UK economy more than most. Our banks have shrunk in value by more than 50 per cent. The City, once rivalling Wall Street, is haemorrhaging jobs and revenue. Our financial sector comprises a much larger part of economy, and as a result, the UK’s recession and indebtedness looks set to continue for longer than the US, and our prospects for recovery seem more remote.
But in the last few days, there does seem to be a genuine scent of warmier sunnier times – and that’s not just this spell of lovely spring weather. It also came from the vast conference centre in London’s docklands which was the base for the G20 summit of developed and emerging economies.
Forget the images of vandalism from the demonstrations yesterday. I was in the West End last night, and the crowds coming back from the City were peaceful, young, good humoured, singing and laughing, as if they’d just returned from a pop festival. And that’s what most of yesterday was, a political carnival of popular discontent. They begged a question, and begged it loudly, but you’d have to look hard to find a practical answer to the problem.
The solutions were likely to come from further afield….
Even as I write, I can hear the deep throb of more navy helicopters overhead as Obama returns to the American Embassy residence on the edge of Regents Park a couple of miles away. It’s far too early to get euphoric about the summit, or conclude that the plans will be enough, but listening to the mood music coming from the G20 summit there’s no doubt that the international outlook of President Obama and his new team brought positivity and freshened pace.