If you were wondering how Tower Hamlets might somehow be worthy of city status, there's your answer. It's the bankers, Britain's financial powerhouse, driving this bid forward. If the Square Mile can be the City of London, the argument goes, then Canary Wharf can be part of the City of Tower Hamlets. What chance does Middlesbrough have? Our Docklands generate far more money. What chance does Blackpool have? Its Tower wasn't built by William the Conqueror. And what hope does Reading have, full stop?
Who's the man with the insane plan? Why, it's our recently elected Mayor, trying to stamp his name on the borough in perpetuity (and maybe earn the title Lord Mayor into the bargain). This is the man who believes that the 2012 Olympics will bring a raft of benefits to the area, essentially by selling morecurry in Brick Lane for a fortnight. By that twisted logic, yes Lutfur, city status will surely make the rest of the world sit up and take notice of Tower Hamlets. In your dreams.
Tower Hamlets may be a borough with centuries of history, but the modern East End is nothing but eight square miles of inner London sprawl. Yes we have trendy Shoreditch, but we also have the Aberfeldy Estate. Yes we have Canary Wharf, but we also have Whitechapel Market. Yes we have The Tower of London, like wow, but that's about as far as international iconic goes. Tower Hamlets has no nucleus, no shared experience... hell we don't even have a proper Marks and Spencer.
To be honest, the Mayor of any British administrative district could have said that. This isn't a campaign based on hope, it's a dirt-cheap way of trying to make residents feel a bit better about themselves. It's political posturing, nothing more, nothing less. Thank goodness all applications have to be submitted within a fortnight, otherwise the drum-banging in the weekly council freesheet might have become unbearable.
Unique, huh? There are dozens of towns across Britain with good shops, buzzing galleries, a top university and lovely residents. The only thing that makes Tower Hamlets special is that our retail centre specialises in international banking deals, otherwise we might as well be Leicester.
Well this resident doesn't. This resident reckons pride is often a misplaced emotion. This resident thinks the Tower Hamlets bid is a delusional sideshow. This resident loves living here, but knows that there are umpteen other British towns with a far better claim to city status.