A self-governing London would have acted more effectively on Covid

Britain was too slow to act on Covid. A self-governing London would have been a lot more agile.

The British state and its English nationalist regime – hidebound, xenophobic, and beholden to vested interests – proved too unwieldy to respond when it needed to. Warnings were ignored, procurement opportunities spurned, and lives were lost.

Before the pandemic took hold here, Italian medics implored Britain to act fast and avoid Italy’s mistakes. Their pleas were ignored, no doubt because plucky little England needs no advice from foreigners. A self-governing London, Europe-friendly and tied in to the international community, would undoubtedly have taken action right then.

While Sadiq Khan was deliberately excluded from emergency COBRA meetings – which UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson didn’t even bother to attend – London politicians such as David Lammy begged the government to act. But Boris’s regime dithered, apparently pursuing a herd immunity scheme to protect profit margins, even at the cost of lives. That only changed when, as Johnson ally Donald Trump put it, “They started seeing things that weren’t good.” Had London been able to act for itself, we could have prevented that here.

The chance to be in on EU procurement of ventilators and protective equipment for our health workers was spurned. When phoney excuses about not being invited and not seeing the e-mails were exposed, Tory minister Michael Gove produced the line: “There is nothing that we can’t do as an independent nation that being part of that scheme would have allowed us to do.”

Obviously that’s nonsense, but the truth is, there’s a great deal which a self-governing London could have done that being subject to the whims of England’s regime prevented us from doing. Taking advantage of the EU’s procurement schemes is a clear example.

Meanwhile, suppliers of vital equipment offered to help but were ignored while the government tried to give contracts to Tory donors and Brexit supporters such as Dyson. Again, there is no way that a self-governing London, free of that crony cabal, would have messed about trying to bung lucrative deals to its sponsors while the virus took hold.

Of course getting through this pandemic is our priority and we all need to work together on that. But it is very hard to avoid the conclusion that London would have handled the whole thing a lot better – and saved many, many lives – if we had been free to act for ourselves.