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To ask why the North is generally seen as ‘poor’?

(341 Posts)
Jules585 Sun 20-Sep-20 19:21:12

Discussing the clear north south divide in Covid cases/restrictions with various people and often hear comments like ‘Well there’s a higher risk where there’s higher levels of deprivation/poorer areas etc.’, ‘poorer people and ethnic minorities worst affected’- suggesting in basic terms that there’s more Covid ‘up north’ as it’s poorer.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that London is the centre of finance/business etc. and yes, there are a lot of very wealthy Londoners. House prices are obviously extortionate but they’ve been inflated for a number of reasons.

But WHY is there this classic ‘grim up north’ perspective of anything north of the Home Counties really?

Having lived in the north, as well as in London, I can honestly say I found parts of London immensely ‘grim’ and deprived, there are millions of people working in low paid, precarious jobs. A huge amount of ethnic diversity. Most people can only dream of owning a house and end up spending an extortionate amount of rent on tiny, sub-standard accommodation.

I know there are various ‘northern’ cities that are often viewed as grim - but my experience even of the most commonly slated cities is that they all have lovely parts, often much closer to countryside and people are able to live a much better standard of living as wages are fairly similar (which they actually are in a lot of sectors and areas of the U.K. now!) and they can actually afford to buy a proper house.

I know for a fact that there isn’t as much of a London vs everywhere else salary divide now - and a lot of people still commute to the major cities as well.

Where does this snobbery come from? Is it as obvious as fact that the Royals are based down south etc etc?

I went to an infamously posh/snobby university and the teasing, snobbery and often insulting attitudes to anyone north of about Oxford was awful and I look back in amazement.

Thoughts? Where does it stem from and why is it still a thing?

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Grilledaubergines Sun 20-Sep-20 19:30:45

I’m not aware that there is this train of thought. Surely it’s known that everywhere has areas of both deprivation and affluence? London, in its business district is wealthy yes. And there are areas of great wealth. But most Londoners aren’t wealthy. Most live the same lives as those in the north. Home Counties isn’t necessarily wealthy. I’m not sure why you think so?

When the south goes into lockdown there will undoubtedly be noted that areas of deprivation may fare worse. So no different to the north.

There seems to always be this myth about the north and south divide. I can say that no one I know refers to the north as being a lesser place. That’s odd. So I wonder why so many in the north are under this impression? It’s like someone came and spread rumours. Then again those of us In the south are looked upon with pity on here because people (a) think south = London, (b) have no communities/community spirit (c) think we’re wealthy. So it’s swings and roundabouts and generally the north/south Tit for tat thing is bull. Created by people from either who just like to inflame, hate etc.

And threads started on the subject seem to just inflame the problem. Whether intentionally or not.

Jules585 Sun 20-Sep-20 19:33:03

Grilledaubergines

I’m not aware that there is this train of thought. Surely it’s known that everywhere has areas of both deprivation and affluence? London, in its business district is wealthy yes. And there are areas of great wealth. But most Londoners aren’t wealthy. Most live the same lives as those in the north. Home Counties isn’t necessarily wealthy. I’m not sure why you think so?

When the south goes into lockdown there will undoubtedly be noted that areas of deprivation may fare worse. So no different to the north.

There seems to always be this myth about the north and south divide. I can say that no one I know refers to the north as being a lesser place. That’s odd. So I wonder why so many in the north are under this impression? It’s like someone came and spread rumours. Then again those of us In the south are looked upon with pity on here because people (a) think south = London, (b) have no communities/community spirit (c) think we’re wealthy. So it’s swings and roundabouts and generally the north/south Tit for tat thing is bull. Created by people from either who just like to inflame, hate etc.

And threads started on the subject seem to just inflame the problem. Whether intentionally or not.

I actually spent most of my life in the south and it’s friends I met/still live down there that have this sort of attitude even if it isn’t meant offensively. And university. Maybe I’ve just lived around snobs grin

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SquishySquirmy Sun 20-Sep-20 19:37:51

Because some people form a very shallow impression of the world beyond their personal bubble from films and TV.
So "The North" is an amalgam of Brassed Off and the Full Monty.
Whipppets, flat caps, resentment and grinding poverty.

"Scotland" is all angry male red heads, bag pipes, and hills.

"Ireland" is all sexy female red heads, warm pubs and terrorism.

Etc etc...

EssentialHummus Sun 20-Sep-20 19:41:05

Something to do with the decline of industry in major Northern cities combined with the fact that the media and government is London-centric? I'm not sure. I'm foreign and find it really interesting.

Jules585 Sun 20-Sep-20 19:42:28

EssentialHummus

Something to do with the decline of industry in major Northern cities combined with the fact that the media and government is London-centric? I'm not sure. I'm foreign and find it really interesting.

Yes I’ve often wondered if it’s the same in other countries - I know in some like France, the south of France is made fun of a bit with the accent but I don’t think it’s to the same extent as the U.K. We are a funny lot.

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Jules585 Sun 20-Sep-20 19:43:10

SquishySquirmy

Because some people form a very shallow impression of the world beyond their personal bubble from films and TV.
So "The North" is an amalgam of Brassed Off and the Full Monty.
Whipppets, flat caps, resentment and grinding poverty.

"Scotland" is all angry male red heads, bag pipes, and hills.

"Ireland" is all sexy female red heads, warm pubs and terrorism.

Etc etc...

This is true!! Any films where the characters are well off, in good professions etc are based in London.

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Leafyhouse Sun 20-Sep-20 19:44:23

I was born in Yorkshire, couldn't wait to get out ('nature' doesn't really do it for me, give me the bright lights and the buzz anytime) and headed down to London. Recently looked at moving back up to York.

Certainly London is where the career opportunities are, but quality of life (bigger houses, disposable income) seems higher in the North. So we were tempted because we could sell our 4-bed terrace down here, and buy bloody acres up North. Question is - could we find a job? In the end, we opted to stay in London, because the opportunities are still there.

I listened to a programme on Radio 4 that said it would take 40 years plus to bring 'the North' up to the income levels of the South East. I found that a little incredulous, but they were interviewing a panel of economists and academics, so there must be something in it.

bearlyactive Sun 20-Sep-20 19:44:43

My guess is that it's a traditional thing. After WW2 the North got left with all the declining traditional industries (coal, steel etc) and the South got the new, flourishing industries, so it may stem from that.

terrywynne Sun 20-Sep-20 19:46:24

I imagine it has built up over time. So 19th century, the North was mines and mills and factories and people piled into slums (and yes London also had poverty but it also was also where high society lives and they looked down on provincials). Even the wealthy were looked down on because their money was from trade. Then you get 1930s, extreme poverty affecting the north. Jarrow marches etc. Then when the the mines and industry close down in the 1980s you get the Full Monty/Brassed Off image of the north. And underneath it all you get the fact that London is seen as being the cultural, intellectual, media, high society centre so the north must be backwards, unrefined, and poor in comparison. And it becomes self fulfilling as tech firms, international firms etc feel they have to set up in London to attract people so it is harder to invest in the north - look at how annoyed people got when some BBC stuff was moved north.

BKCRMP Sun 20-Sep-20 19:47:03

I live in Dorset but originally from a very deprived part of Brum. Even our "deprived" areas are nowhere near the same level. It's odd to explain but there just isn't the same level of it.

SheepandCow Sun 20-Sep-20 19:47:46

I think your last sentence has it OP.
You must only know snobs. In my experience the worse offenders for this are ex-northerners who've moved down south.

The snobs don't represent southerners anymore than those with the prejudiced ignorant belief that all southerners are snobs represent northerners.

It's very clear the reality is much more mixed. Some of the most deprived parts of the UK are in London and the south. Which is unsurprising when you think about the extortionate cost of housing, as you mentioned.

As for Covid. There's no real North/South divide. At least not in terms of infection rates. London and the South East have already been badly hit. London suffered worse than anywhere else with over 6,000 deaths.

There's talk of a London lockdown starting as soon as next week. It will be the whole city - bevause whilst reporting cases from individual boroughs makes London's infection rate look low, it's a very interlinked city. Hence the need for a city-wide lockdown.

Puffalicious Sun 20-Sep-20 19:49:02

*Because some people form a very shallow impression of the world beyond their personal bubble from films and TV.
So "The North" is an amalgam of Brassed Off and the Full Monty.
Whipppets, flat caps, resentment and grinding poverty.

"Scotland" is all angry male red heads, bag pipes, and hills.

"Ireland" is all sexy female red heads, warm pubs and terrorism.

Etc etc...*

So very true. I have heard many, many times that since I'm Glaswegian I'll have had a rough, violent upbringing , the streets and are full of violence, drugs gangsters and poverty and we all hate the English. None of which, patently, is true. It really rips ma knitting.

CaptainMyCaptain Sun 20-Sep-20 19:51:42

I moved from a deprived area of London to a much nicer place 'up North'. My husband, Sheffield born and bred, came with me to visit the town in the South East where I grew up and was shocked by how down at heel it was. To be fair, I was surprised by how it had changed since the boom time 70s.

Puffalicious Sun 20-Sep-20 19:53:20

There isn't the same level of deprivation in the south?! Just have a wander around the South West- the seaside towns are riddled with awful deprivation, poverty and social problems. I have family there and it's as bad as the housing schemes in Glasgow where I teach, if not worse at times.

Escapedtothecountry Sun 20-Sep-20 19:53:36

I think it is historical going back many, many years. I doesn't help that the government spends so much more per person in London. Public transport being one example. I begrudge paying the same rate of income tax when so much more money is diverted to the capital. It would also seem that the more contraversial schemes are trialled in the north eg. fracking.
Better find my tin hat and put my clogs on.

CaptainMyCaptain Sun 20-Sep-20 19:53:59

Forgot to add, my area has low rates of Covid.

Jules585 Sun 20-Sep-20 19:55:18

SheepandCow

I think your last sentence has it OP.
You must only know snobs. In my experience the worse offenders for this are ex-northerners who've moved down south.

The snobs don't represent southerners anymore than those with the prejudiced ignorant belief that all southerners are snobs represent northerners.

It's very clear the reality is much more mixed. Some of the most deprived parts of the UK are in London and the south. Which is unsurprising when you think about the extortionate cost of housing, as you mentioned.

As for Covid. There's no real North/South divide. At least not in terms of infection rates. London and the South East have already been badly hit. London suffered worse than anywhere else with over 6,000 deaths.

There's talk of a London lockdown starting as soon as next week. It will be the whole city - bevause whilst reporting cases from individual boroughs makes London's infection rate look low, it's a very interlinked city. Hence the need for a city-wide lockdown.

@SheepandCow yes I’ve known some northerners turned Londoners who have become awful snobs - ‘I could never go back north’ etc

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Jules585 Sun 20-Sep-20 19:57:33

Puffalicious

There isn't the same level of deprivation in the south?! Just have a wander around the South West- the seaside towns are riddled with awful deprivation, poverty and social problems. I have family there and it's as bad as the housing schemes in Glasgow where I teach, if not worse at times.

Yes I forgot to mention the south west but you are so right.

It doesn’t appear to have the same ‘grim’ perception - probably because the snobs have their holiday homes in the pretty seaside villages and they never see what it’s like in-land and during the winter??

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SheepandCow Sun 20-Sep-20 19:58:42

EssentialHummus

Something to do with the decline of industry in major Northern cities combined with the fact that the media and government is London-centric? I'm not sure. I'm foreign and find it really interesting.

The media and government are only London centric (and now Greater Manchester because of Salford's Media City) for work. They might keep a temporary or second home bolt hole in London, but it's the Shires (and parts of the SW like Dorset) where the wealth is to be found.

London has some of the most deprived areas in the whole country. It was highlighted when they were hit so very badly in the Covid first wave. Part of the reason for the poverty is the rich plundering London without a thought for the poorer residents of the city.

NoIDontWatchLoveIsland Sun 20-Sep-20 20:00:09

There are national statistics gathered the Department for Communities & Local Government (or whatever it's called this week) - google "uk most deprived postcodes" and you can maps of deprivation. This isn't simply income level but a range of factors.

There are a greater proportion of the most deprived postcodes located in the north vs the south.

It's not really opinion driven in that sense.

weepingwillow22 Sun 20-Sep-20 20:00:23

There is quite a stark difference in GDP per head by region but interestingly it is not strictly north/south with the North West coming out more strongly than the Midlands.

CaptainMyCaptain Sun 20-Sep-20 20:01:36

The southern town where I grew up had a lot of light high tech industries like printed circuit boards when they were the latest thing. All this is now done in the far East hence the decline although the housing areas still looked OK.

SquishySquirmy Sun 20-Sep-20 20:01:54

It also works the other way.

If you live in "Laandaahn" you are either:
A) posh.
B) Not posh: A proper geezer or a slightly trashy looking, peroxide blond matriarch. Probably a bit tough, maybe even a minor gangster or a Del Boy type: Involved in some right dodgy scams, but you have a heart of gold really and you love your ol' mum.

It has also been known for certain Northerners (who grew up middle class or upper middle class, with a comfortable lifestyle, perhaps private education) to play up to their "working class roots". Because growing up in The North = working class. Never mind if daddy was a well paid barrister or a senior manager. They are Northern dontcha know, and therefore have considerably more insight into the working class than any one else. They probably write for the Guardian.

Jules585 Sun 20-Sep-20 20:02:10

BKCRMP

I live in Dorset but originally from a very deprived part of Brum. Even our "deprived" areas are nowhere near the same level. It's odd to explain but there just isn't the same level of it.

May sound stupid but I wonder whether a lot of it stems from how the place actually looks. I know Brum well and yes there are some rough as hell parts but it doesn’t help itself by generally being more concrete, grey and scruffy than a lot of other cities (I know it is due to WW2 etc!)

A pretty seaside village in the SW could be just as deprived, probably has much worse unemployment rates but if you drove through you’d probably think it looked nice.

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