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I’ve been working in Northern Spain for more than 4 months now. I shall be returning to England very shortly and so in the past weeks I’ve been thinking about how this country compares to my own. There are many things the UK gets right that Spain gets wrong, but to list these would be impolite to my hosts. Here instead are four things Spain does that Britain should do too…
1. Build Real Cities.
One of the greatest failures of modern British planning is the way the capital city has been allowed to dwarf the rest of the country economically, culturally and politically. The 2nd city of Britain is a glorified housing estate. The 3rd city (Manchester) is merely a scaled down version of London. Below that, most English cities are simply large towns.
Compare this to Spain, where at least 5 cities – Bilbao, Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Seville – qualify as ‘major’. This gives Spain a wonderful balance, something sorely lacking the UK.
2. Cook Real Food.
British cuisine is an international punchline. To deny this only makes the laughter more emphatic. Spanish cuisine is simple, yet wonderfully varied. Let’s add more seafood to our diet. It extends your lifespan and is immeasurably more delicious than chips.
3. Don’t Fight High-Speed Railways.
There is currently a very silly controversy raging in Britain regarding the construction of a high-speed rail link between Birmingham and London. While I don’t know of many reasons why a Londoner would wish to go to Birmingham, high speed trains are an essential part of a modern national infrastructure. Don’t fight the future. It always wins.
4. Lift the 5pm Shutters.
There is no reason for society to shut down at 5pm. It is depressing, anti-social and economically destructive. If you want young Brits to stop getting drunk in parks, put pressure on businesses to stay open longer. In Spain, the happy part of the day begins when ours finishes.