Sad in the city. Photo: Getty images
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Surprisingly, London is the least happy major city in the UK

Can’t get no satisfaction. 

Everyone knows Londoners are grumpy. They file in and out of their fancy underground network with faces of thunder, avoiding each others’ eyes and rushing home to count the pennies left over after they’ve paid their astronomical housing costs.

All this we know anecdotally - but now, you'll be pleased to hear, we have the data to prove it. Urban Audit, a branch of the European Commission tasked with assessing the “attractiveness” and “quality of life” of European cities, has released the results of its 2012 Perception Survey. It asked people in 79 cities, including 6 in the UK, about their satisfaction with everything from their cities’ healthcare to its public spaces. It then used this data to put together average satisfaction levels on 12 different issues for each city. 

If you take an average of those 12 percentages for UK cities, they on the whole turn out to be “pretty satisfied” – all six fall in the 75-85 per cent range. They’re certainly doing better than Athens, which has an average satisfaction rate of 42 per cent.

But lagging in last place among the Brits is London, which feels the least satisfied with its schools, sports facilities, health services, and pollution and noise levels. (Its schools, incidentally, are among the best in Britain.)

The only category where London came out on top was public transport. Here's a graph of the overall satisfaction levels.

The survey also asked respondents whether they agreed with certain statements about their cities. Only 71 per cent of Londoners agreed with the statement “I feel safe in London”, which places it below the European median of 74 per cent and at the bottle of the pile in the UK. Londoners feel less safe than residents of Paris, Barcelona, Zagreb, and Malaga, to name but four.  Finally, in utterly unsurprising news, only 12 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement “It is easy to find good housing at a reasonable price in London.”

So should Londoners really be so down on their city? As the UK’s largest, it’s pretty much fated to have the highest crime and pollution levels. And yes, the housing market is awful. 

But when the researchers asked the question “are you satisfied with the place where you live?”, offering respondants the chance to say they liked their city despite its crime and pollution, Londoners were still the most dissatisfied in the UK – 82 per cent said they were satisfied, which sounds OK, but it places London ahead of only 17 European cities, and behind 51. The median satisfaction level for Europe was much higher, at 92 per cent. Here's the results for some major European cities: 

One explanation for London's poor performance could be that Londoners have less pride in their city - a result, perhaps, of the fact relatively few of them were born there. In 2001, Sheffield University conducted a “sense of belonging” study across the UK, based on the number of non-married adults, one-person households and people who had lived at their current address for less than a year. (The thinking was that these were the groups least likely to have roots in an area.) The researchers' results show that, of the six British cities included in the Urban Audit study, it was those who lived in London who were likely to have the lowest “sense of belonging”. Residents of Cardiff – also the winning city in terms of satisfaction – were likely to have the highest.

In other words, despite all their phone contacts, Londoners are lonely, disconnected and dissatisfied. Someone sort out the housing market before it’s too late.

This is a preview of our new sister publication, CityMetric. We'll be launching its website soon - in the meantime, you can follow it on Twitter and Facebook. 

Barbara Speed is comment editor at the i, and was technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman, and a staff writer at CityMetric.

Photo:Getty
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Labour is a pioneer in fighting sexism. That doesn't mean there's no sexism in Labour

While we campaign against misogyny, we must not fall into the trap of thinking Labour is above it; doing so lets women members down and puts the party in danger of not taking them seriously when they report incidents. 

I’m in the Labour party to fight for equality. I cheered when Labour announced that one of its three Budget tests was ensuring the burden of cuts didn’t fall on women. I celebrated the party’s record of winning rights for women on International Women’s Day. And I marched with Labour women to end male violence against women and girls.

I’m proud of the work we’re doing for women across the country. But, as the Labour party fights for me to feel safer in society, I still feel unsafe in the Labour party.

These problems are not unique to the Labour party; misogyny is everywhere in politics. You just have to look on Twitter to see women MPs – and any woman who speaks out – receiving rape and death threats. Women at political events are subject to threatening behaviour and sexual harassment. Sexism and violence against women at its heart is about power and control. And, as we all know, nowhere is power more highly-prized and sought-after than in politics.

While we campaign against misogyny, we must not fall into the trap of thinking Labour is above it; doing so lets women members down and puts the party in danger of not taking them seriously when they report incidents. 

The House of Commons’ women and equalities committee recently stated that political parties should have robust procedures in place to prevent intimidation, bullying or sexual harassment. The committee looked at this thanks to the work of Gavin Shuker, who has helped in taking up this issue since we first started highlighting it. Labour should follow this advice, put its values into action and change its structures and culture if we are to make our party safe for women.

We need thorough and enforced codes of conduct: online, offline and at all levels of the party, from branches to the parliamentary Labour party. These should be made clear to everyone upon joining, include reminders at the start of meetings and be up in every campaign office in the country.

Too many members – particularly new and young members – say they don’t know how to report incidents or what will happen if they do. This information should be given to all members, made easily available on the website and circulated to all local parties.

Too many people – including MPs and local party leaders – still say they wouldn’t know what to do if a local member told them they had been sexually harassed. All staff members and people in positions of responsibility should be given training, so they can support members and feel comfortable responding to issues.

Having a third party organisation or individual to deal with complaints of this nature would be a huge help too. Their contact details should be easy to find on the website. This organisation should, crucially, be independent of influence from elsewhere in the party. This would allow them to perform their role without political pressures or bias. We need a system that gives members confidence that they will be treated fairly, not one where members are worried about reporting incidents because the man in question holds power, has certain political allies or is a friend or colleague of the person you are supposed to complain to.

Giving this third party the resources and access they need to identify issues within our party and recommend further changes to the NEC would help to begin a continuous process of improving both our structures and culture.

Labour should champion a more open culture, where people feel able to report incidents and don't have to worry about ruining their career or facing political repercussions if they do so. Problems should not be brushed under the carpet. It takes bravery to admit your faults. But, until these problems are faced head-on, they will not go away.

Being the party of equality does not mean Labour is immune to misogyny and sexual harassment, but it does mean it should lead the way on tackling it.

Now is the time for Labour to practice what it preaches and prove it is serious about women’s equality.

Bex Bailey was on Labour’s national executive committee from 2014 to 2016.