We haven't got time right now to crunch the very latest numbers, but in 2006-07, Oxford Economics estimated [PDF] that the GSE contributed nearly £40bn to the rest of the country (ie tax payments less public spending received by the GSE). Or getting on for £2000 per capita.
Here's their picture (the GSE comprises Eastern, Greater London, and South East regions, and note that in this analysis all North Sea taxes have been attributed to Scotland):
If we're going to open the issue of electoral reform, we need a proper look at the entire shooting match. As well as PR, we need to look at the structure of government. A separately elected English Parliament is clearly on the agenda, but we also need to return fiscal power to local communities.
The people round our way are sick of getting outvoted by the beneficiaries of socialist fantasies elsewhere in the country. It just ain't fair.
Of course, life, as they say, isn't fair. But the trouble is (lest you think that I'm entirely motivated by spite) that it isn't only the South East that suffers—it is the enterprising people in those other regions that also suffer. As the state spends more and more on various services and pet projects, they crowd out the businesses that would have been able to generate some real growth through providing said services.
Without a strong culture of enterprise, there can be no growth. Big businesses do not, in general, create jobs—the number of people that they employ remains fairly static (although the type of people that they employ may change over time). It is small businesses that provide around 80% of new jobs in the economy.
The state hand-outs are not actually helping the rest of the UK to prosper: they are simply postponing that day of reckoning that will come when the money runs out—a day that is coming rather sooner than most people hoped.
In the end, we return to the problem that those in receipt of state largesse tend to vote for whichever party is going to increase the supply of "free" money, and that is entirely unfair. Because, as I have noted innumerable times, that money isn't free: someone had to work bloody hard for it, and then have it extorted from them under threat of violence—so that the government can hand it out to one of their favoured supplicants.
Various solutions to the problem of certain people voting themselves more of other people's money have been proposed: perhaps we should disbar anyone who is in nett receipt of state money from voting—that would wipe out anyone who lives on benefits and anyone who works for the state. It's certainly an option, but people tend to be sensitive about restricting the voting franchise.
Ideally, of course, the government simply wouldn't pay out any benefits at all, and the number of people that it would employ would be so tiny as to make no difference. But that isn't going to happen anytime soon.
So, I propose a federal system instead: a system that fits in with the Tories' localism plans, and which brings power—in the form of raising taxes—far closer to the people.
Something needs to be done.