London Essays – Issue 1: Soft Power


London is celebrating a unique moment in time. It is the world’s greatest city. Its economic liberalism, cultural variety, social tolerance and winning blend of systems and empathy are hallmarks of recent success. There is no room for complacency, however, in the face of some unprecedented challenges – not least housing supply, affordability, the construction crunch and the need for continued, long-term investment in major infrastructure projects.

By Ian Hawksworth

London, having absorbed a population the equivalent size of Edinburgh in the last ten years, will now have to integrate the population equivalent of Birmingham in the next decade. The city will need to explore radical, future-facing, and sometimes uncomfortable options. Being a world leader is not without its challenges.

‘London’, as John Dickie reminds us in this collection of essays, ‘cannot rest on its laurels’. Yet, as other contributors illustrate, London’s status as a global hub and beacon is celebrated from Beijing to Bangalore. It is, observe Richard Dowden and Dele Meiji Fatunla, also ‘the biggest African city outside Africa’. The capital’s influence is likely only to grow further, as Benjamin Barber, author of If Mayors Ruled the World notes. Cities like London, he says, ‘fight well above their weight’ and wield ‘a great deal of international soft power’. This power is of course economic as well as political. Deyan Sudjic explores why London is now properly understood as a centre for design, innovation and enterprise – a global ‘early warning station for creativity’.

Capco is absolutely committed to London. We are proud investors in the capital. In addition to our stewardship of Covent Garden, we are creating at Earls Court a new great district in the world’s greatest city. It will capture, celebrate and elevate the very best of the culture of London. From the world’s capital, this unique culture – and the soft power it generates – will continue to radiate.