Here are five definitely not ridiculous places in London we could put MPs while Parliament is renovated

Falling down. Image: Getty.

Between the fallout from the snap election, the hung parliament, Brexit and the brewing civil wars in both main parties, Parliament won't have a lot of time to discuss the fact it needs to relocate in 2022 while repairs are made to the building.

But we are experiencing a brief lull in news at the moment – which is why it is the perfect time to explore some of the best options in London.

1) Frank’s Cafe

The rooftop bar on top of the car park in Peckham is already a brilliant place ruined by the terrible people who enjoy going there, so we might as well take that to its logical conclusion. There’s enough space for both chambers to get a floor each, they then can meet at the top.

Pros: There’s something about David Davis that feels like he really enjoys drinking cocktails with tiny umbrellas in them, and maybe putting him in a place with an endless supply of cocktails with tiny umbrellas in them might distract him enough that he doesn’t fuck up Brexit, by virtue of forgetting it’s happening.

Cons: Really can’t rule out a UK House of Cards “Daddyyy-y-y-y” type scenario if you move Parliament to a rooftop.

2) A selection of boats going up and down the Thames

Some architects argued last year that a Parliament-on-Thames structure could be built next to the real thing – but why not go one step further?

Give a big boat each to the two main parties, some smaller boats for the others, get a big floating Chamber for the members to jump onto during sitting hours, encourage tourists to throw things at them from the shore.

Pros: John Bercow could threaten to throw anyone making never-ending speeches overboard.

Cons: You just know that Nigel Farage and Bob Geldof would turn up again and circle around like dickhead sharks, don’t you. You just know.


3) Northcliffe House

If George Osborne can leave Parliament to go edit a newspaper in Kensington, they might as well all follow and be done with it. Making MPs and Lords share a building with the Mail, Metro, Independent and Evening Standard would absolutely be hilarious and definitely not worrying and bad for democracy.

Pros: No-one in their right mind would ever go to High Street Kensington anyway, so they wouldn’t be disturbing the locals, whoever they are.

Cons: The bleak gossip of parliamentarians and hacks hooking up because there’s nothing else to do in High Street Kensington. God, the bleak gossip.

4) That massive grim Wetherspoons in North London, you know the one

They wanted Brexit Britain, they’ll get Brexit Britain. Watch as Liam Fox has to stand on a chair to explain why the future of trade will be great while the Remainers gloomily dip their breaded brie (Christmas special) in their tiny little pots of cranberry sauce.

Pros: The drinks will be so cheap they won’t even need to get them subsidised.

Cons: The lack of daylight might make some of them somehow look unhealthier, like pasty ghosts in cheap suits. No-one wants that.

5) That weird London Dungeon tourist attraction

The public hates politicians and it’s time for them to start feeling that: stick them in that weird haunted place, leave them to screw up this country even more in a complex network of dark tunnels full of fake spider webs and dodgy fake blood.

Pros: On the Jubilee line, so close to Westminster if they want to get a drink in a familiar place after a day of hard work in the shadows. Also: imagine Amber Rudd, boarding a creepy mini train to give a ministerial statement, and announcing “this government is clear that it is a vitaaaaAAAAAAAAaaaaah oh GOD” while the other MPs watch silently as she goes up and down on the creaking rails.

Cons: There are absolutely no cons to this scenario whatsoever.

Marie Le Conte tweets as @youngvulgarian.

 
 
 
 

Academics are mapping the legacy of slavery in Britain’s cities

A detail of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership map showing central Bristol. Image: LBS/UCL.

For 125 years, a statue of the 17th century slave-trader Edward Colston stood in the centre of Bristol, ostensibly to commemorate the philanthropy he’d used his blood money to fund. Then, on 7 June, Black Lives Matter protesters pulled it down and threw it into the harbour

The incident has served to shine a light on the benefits Bristol and other British cities reaped from the Atlantic slave trade. Grand houses and public buildings in London, Liverpool, Glasgow and beyond were also funded by the profits made from ferrying enslaved Africans across the ocean. But because the horrors of that trade happened elsewhere, the role it played in building modern Britain is not something we tend to discuss.

Now a team at University College London is trying to change that. The Legacies of British Slave-Ownership project is mapping every British address linked to a slave-owner. In all, its database contains 5,229 addresses, linked to 5,586 individuals (some addresses are linked to more than one slave owner; some slave owners had more than one home). 

The map is not exact. Streets have often been renumbered; for some individuals, only a city is known, not necessarily an address; and at time of writing, only around 60% of known addresses (3,294 out of 5,229) have been added to the map. But by showing how many addresses it has recorded in each area, it gives some sense of which bits of the UK benefited most from the slave trade; the blue pins, meanwhile, reflect individual addresses, which you can click for more details.

The map shows, for example, that although it’s Glasgow that’s been noisily grappling with this history of late, there were probably actually more slave owners in neighbouring Edinburgh, the centre of Scottish political and financial power.

Liverpool, as an Atlantic port, benefited far more from the trade than any other northern English city.

But the numbers were higher in Bristol and Bath; and much, much higher in and around London.

 

Other major UK cities – Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle – barely appear. Which is not to say they didn’t also benefit from the Triangular Trade (with its iron and weaponry industries, Professor David Dabydeen of Warwick University said in 2007, “Birmingham armed the slave trade”) – merely that they benefited in a less direct way.

The LBS map, researcher Rachel Lang explained via email, is “a never-ending task – we’re always adding new people to the database and finding out more about them”. Nonetheless, “The map shows broadly what we expected to find... We haven’t focused on specific areas of Britain so I think the addresses we’ve mapped so far are broadly representative.” 

The large number in London, she says, reflect its importance as a financial centre. Where more specific addresses are available, “you can see patterns that reflect the broader social geography”. The high numbers of slave-owners in Bloomsbury, for example, reflects merchants’ desire for property convenient to the City of London in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when the district was being developed. Meanwhile, “there are widows and spinsters with slave property living in suburbs and outlying villages such as Chelsea and Hampstead. Country villas surround London.” 


“What we perhaps didn’t expect to see was that no areas are entirely without slave owners,” Lang adds. “They are everywhere from the Orkney Islands to Penzance. It also revealed clusters in unexpected places – around Inverness and Cromarty, for example, and the Isle of Wight.” No area of Britain was entirely free of links to the slave trade.

 You can explore the map here.

Jonn Elledge was founding editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

All images courtesy of LBS/UCL