Tragic news, dear readers: the hipsters in London’s Shoreditch are throwing another hissy fit. They say the “wrong sort of developer” is moving into the area and ruining its “charm.” I know, I know. Your hearts bleed. But while I hate to intrude on private grief, obviously, what’s happening in east London at the moment is so baffling and hilarious I thought Breitbart London readers might be tickled by it.
You see, the government has been making a lot of noise about “Tech City” (Britain’s answer to Silicon Valley) and all the supposedly amazing apps and companies that are being built there. The companies themselves – not, I have to say, on the whole very impressive – have been suckered in with the promise of fancy tea parties at various palaces.
The idea was to attract “inward investment” – specifically, American venture capitalists investing in British companies. But that hasn’t happened. The only real effect of the government’s huffing and puffing about Shoreditch is that rents have gone up. A lot. Because the inward investment Shoreditch is receiving isn’t from California, but from Mayfair property developers, who see the area as the next big up-and-coming part of London.
Accordingly, they’re building luxury flats and the scrappy two-person startups can’t afford to be in EC2 any more. It’s a highly predictable result – yet no one, apparently, told the people who were in charge of marketing the area in the first place. The result that former government staff are now crapping on their own legacies by protesting about the area’s regeneration.
“Tech City Says No” is a campaign founded and fronted by former Tech City UK deputy CEO Ben Southworth. You read that right: the former deputy CEO of the government’s regeneration and investment quango is kicking up a fuss about… regeneration. No, I’m not making this up.
Since leaving government, Southworth has failed to find a job. But he’s been busy, seemingly launching a new initiative or campaign every week. They do love their fancy titles, this lot. He’s “board member” of an occasional pitching event called City Meets Tech. (Board member!) He’s the founder of the Ada Lovelace Academy, which says it will open a free school to teach coding skills. (No word on whether this is actually happening.) And he’s the organiser of “Tech Bikers,” a charity bike ride. (I mean, of course he is.)
The Tech City Says No campaign video, which features a cast of oddballs – none of whom are what you might call “first rank” entrepreneurs or executives – has to be seen to be believed. Nowhere in the video does Southworth admit his role in bringing the area to the attention of developers, who are understandably eager to cash in on the “buzz.” There is no mea culpa. No shred of awareness that he is trying to have his cake and eat it.
Instead, just a few half-hearted whinges from whoever he could persuade to appear on camera. (He produced the video himself, naturally.)
“We’re passionate about maintaining the style, charm and unique nature of Tech City,” says the website. Well, mate: if you’re wondering who’s most responsible for an influx of capital and building work that any normal person would consider bog-standard regeneration, perhaps you should find a mirror?
The technology industry is dominated by hangers-on and wannabes who, when push comes to shove, don’t really like capitalism all that much. Cameron’s Tories apparently can’t tell the difference between those who are critical of some startups while supportive of the industry overall – your present correspondent, for example – and closet hippies who don’t mind cash and attention lavished in their direction, but who squeal like stuck pigs when developers move in to give their beloved neighbourhood a facelift.
Personally, I’ve never seen the charm of east London. “Up and coming” is normally a euphemism for “hellhole,” and Shoreditch does not buck that trend. It’s dirty, smelly, ugly, overpriced and full of absolutely awful people. The sooner it’s turned into luxury flats the better. Bring on the homeless spikes, I say!
As for the startups whining about rising rents, well. I, and others, told you years ago this is what would happen if you sucked up to the government and became useful idiots in Prime Minister Cameron’s public relations exercise. The cost of those invitations to Buckingham Palace was being priced out of the area a few years later and the wholesale destruction of the “community” you professed to love.
Anyway, the good news is that Tech City has indeed said no – but to Ben Southworth. Despite a frantic email campaign and furious tweeting, just 59 people have signed his petition to hold back the area’s economic development. Hashtag lol!