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Don't you care about London, Prime Minister?

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Tim Donovan | 15:41 UK time, Saturday, 1 May 2010

Hello! Helloooo! Gordon, where are you...?

Can anyone help with this?

Has anyone anywhere seen the Prime Minister on the campaign trail in the capital?

We ask simply so that we can double and triple-check that we have got this right.

Does Gordon Brown see London as important?

It may be only a small oversight, of course? Just a teeny-weeny 13-year blip?

Perhaps someone in Labour HQ mistakenly excised the letter L from the leader's electoral grid. And no-one noticed.

'L' for London?

For there's certainly a pattern.

Gordon Brown in Loughborough not London. Getty Images

Take an example. We accept we are bit-part players in the schedules of a global statesman, and we put it no more strongly than that it may be but one minor indicator of the priorities competing for Mr Brown's attention.

But during the long,long tenure of a Labour government Gordon Brown has never done a formal sit-down interview with the BBC's London News programme.

In other words, we've never heard or been able to test his vision for the capital.

There've been fleeting glimpses. A couple of snatched questions to him during a 'reconciliation' with Ken Livingstone during the local elections in London in 2006.

A handful more when he joined Livingstone for an event at Canary Wharf during his failed 2008 mayoral campaign.

But in effect - from this one vantage point at least - Mr Brown has been an enigma.

For more than a decade - as Chancellor and then Prime Minister - he's been at one and the same time the single-most visible and invisible influence on the capital.

Working in mysterious ways, you could argue. God-like even?

Talking of which. In the Middle Ages there was a heretical sect which briefly held a foothold in southern Europe.

(Not unlike, you might say, UKIP winning two seats on the London Assembly in 2004).

The sect's core belief was in a dualist God, a deity capable of good and evil.

Such may be the forces and tensions at work in Gordon Brown's relationship with London.

Everywhere, Labour supporters argue, is the evidence of his good works: Sure Start centres; nursery places; schools with much better GCSE results; improved life chances; hospitals and walk-in clinics; more police officers tied to specific local communities. It was Gordon Brown too who put the final signature to the Crossrail deal.

But everywhere and everyday too is the evidence, his critics say, of where Gordon Brown has let down the capital.

He was the architect of the PPP programme to upgrade the Tube. First Metronet collapsed. Then Tubelines and Boris Johnson fell into a terrible state of acrimony.
And now there's a £500 million funding gap to fill, while Mr Brown appears to have snuck away from the scene of the crime.

In the City, wasn't there a failure to regulate to a degree that would have prevented the recklessness of banker? Their vast salaries,yes, brought considerable tax receipts to the Exchequer but their excesses may have brought the capital to the brink of one of its most dangerous, challenging eras

And then there's the question of whether London has been getting its fair share of those revenues. London and Londoners earn an estimated £15 billion pounds more for goverment coffers each year than is ploughed back into public spending in the capital.

And what about housing? Long-term owners may have been re-assured by seeing the value of their homes rocket.

But prices are now potentially life-changingly daunting for first-time buyers.

And for those for whom ownership may never be an option? Well, the consequence of a failure to build and provide comes in the shape of three letters in parts of east London: BNP.

So, Gordon, there's lots to discuss.

Please come and talk to us. Just in case - or even if - it's just to say goodbye.


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