Feargus O'Sullivan is a contributing writer to CityLab, covering Europe. His writing focuses on housing, gentrification and social change, infrastructure, urban policy, and national cultures. He has previously contributed to The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, and Next City, among other publications.
“There’s a problem in the British psyche still about that,” the mayor said in an interview at The Atlantic’s CityLab 2015 summit.
America’s “lack of embarrassment about accumulating simply titanic sums of money” gives it a competitive advantage over the U.K., says London Mayor Boris Johnson. Speaking at The Atlantic’s CityLab 2015 summit in London Monday, Mayor Johnson bemoaned British reserve and asserted that wealth inequality was not in itself a problem for London.
“There’s a problem in the British psyche still about that, and a willingness to fire pellets and projectiles at people… There is a question about growing inequality of wealth. If you look at the multiple of earnings in London between the FTSE 100 chief executives and the average pay of their employees, it has greatly increased in the last 40 years, there’s no question about it. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, as long as those guys pay their taxes, pay their people properly—and that there’s opportunity. But there’s got to be opportunity.”
Speaking in a joint interview with former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Johnson cited London’s ethnic diversity as a positive factor in the city’s development, but stressed that its tech culture also needed to be inclusive.
“People need to sense that this incredible thing that’s happening on their doorsteps—this bustling, jiving atmosphere of people doing tech startups with nose rings and fixed-wheel bicycles—that they have a part in it.”
But while Mayor Johnson praised New York’s positive attitude to wealth and can-do culture, he couldn’t resist a dig at the city’s poorer crime rate:
“I would still point out that the crime rate is much lower in London, you’re much less likely to get murdered.”