For some people ‘open versus closed‘ is the new Left versus Right. But how ‘open’ are the communities they choose to live in?
In the case of Britain’s big cities and prosperous university towns, there’s an obvious gap between thought and action.
It’s a point well-made in a piece by Sam Watling for City Journal:
It’s the same story in American liberal enclaves like San Francisco. They may deplore Trump’s wall, but their restrictions on development serve as a financial barrier to incomers.
In Britain, house prices act as a one-way valve, encouraging people to move northwards in search of a higher quality of life, but impeding those who prioritise higher wages from moving in the opposite direction.
This results is what Watling calls a “surplus of ‘trapped’ labour” that keeps wage levels low in the North. This is the trouble with saying ‘not in my backyard’ — it’s not just your backyard that’s affected.
Of course, not all nimbys are Remain-voting liberals. Many are dyed-in-the-wool reactionaries. But there’s something especially repellent about people who preach about openness without practicing it where it matters.
In particular, a liberal immigration policy means that millions more people will come to work here each decade. So where are they going to live?
As I’ve argued before, there’s no way we can absorb that many new people unless small cities like Oxford, Cambridge and Brighton agree to become big cities.