Sean Griffiths is the deputy editor of Mixmag, and he has big plans for the Palace of Westminster…
One of the greatest things about London is, perversely, also its biggest problem: everything is here. From the media to the government to cultural institutions, Europe’s biggest financial sector and the royal family (when they’re not off shooting things in Scotland), this city is stacked with power. Now, sure, that helps make it one of the planet’s most appealing places to live. But it’s also one of the reasons why a pint of lemon-infused craft ale is going to cost you at least a tenner very, very soon and why, at my current rate of saving, I’m not going to be eligible for a mortgage until 2063.
As former US president John Adams (or possibly David Brent) once said: ‘Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.’ And a crumbling Victorian pile could be offering London the mother of all opportunities.
At a point in time when British politics feels as stable as a horse balancing on a beach ball, the building that houses its main players is falling to pieces too. The Palace of Westminster is in desperate need of repair. Initially it was hoped that the expensive refit could go on while MPs remained in Parliament, but a taskforce saddled with assessing the damage has suggested that this could take more than 30 years to complete and has advised that both houses move out for six years instead. But if we’re booting the establishment out of their nest for a while, wouldn’t it be better if they stayed out for good?
It’d be good for democracy, of course: an opportunity to burst the Westminster bubble once and for all and let MPs get a taste of life in another part of the country. A Labour MP has suggested that Parliament should be moved to Manchester, but if you ask me, with two mega football clubs, MediaCityUK and a cracking music scene, Manchester’s already got enough going for it. So how about Blackpool or Middlesbrough or Luton or Northampton? They’re all towns that would benefit from an injection of cash and a new industry. And it would also give MPs a taste of what life’s like a little further away from some of the world’s best museums, art galleries, theatres and restaurants. Ideally, to keep their minds firmly on the job, our elected representatives would congregate in a drab, grey business park on the edge of town, where the only distractions are an A-road service station and a branch of DFS.
Then, once we’re rid, just imagine what we could do with the building. We could turn it into social housing, making a small but eloquent dent in London’s housing crisis. Or it could be a pleasure palace with a little something for everyone: a cocktail bar, arthouse cinema and street food complex in one wing, bowls and a garden centre for your gran in another.
Or how about this? London club closures are coming thick and fast, but just imagine the kind of raves you could throw in the Houses of Parliament. We already have Ministry of Sound, but this could be the actual Ministry of Sound. And replacing politicians with clubbers would drastically cut drug use in the Westminster area. Let’s kick them out: Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and the rest. It’s time for a one-party system. And by party, we mean party.
…but for now, here are London’s best clubs.