OPINION - The Standard View: Labour’s devolution plan needs a strong London

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

How should Britain be governed? Who ought to be responsible for taxation and spending? Where might those decisions be made? These are questions which lie at the heart of our political system and, says Sir Keir Starmer, are at least partly responsible for our weak economic performance.

The Labour leader is digesting a report from former prime minister Gordon Brown which contains a range of recommendations, from the devolution of powers to the abolition of the House of Lords. London is crying out for greater powers. Covid-19, which hit the capital first and hardest, and the suffocating strings attached by the Government to Transport for London bailouts have only served to underline this need. More of the money raised from Londoners should stay in the capital, while the Mayor should be given enhanced responsibilities in vital areas of economic development such as skills and housing.

There is, however, a note of caution surrounding Labour’s plans: it must not be another avenue to levelling down London. We support greater investment in all regions of England and each country of the UK. But the way to boost the economy and raise living standards will never be to hammer the capital, a global city on our doorstep. Not least because such an attitude overlooks the pockets of real poverty that persist in London and which require greater support, not less.

From shedding civil service jobs in the capital to shooing away investment, if Labour were to win an election it should not repeat the same mistakes as various Conservative administrations of the past few years. London can lead the British economic recovery, as it has done before, but not with an arm tied behind its back.

Be vigilant on Strep A

It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Seven schoolchildren, including a 12-year-old boy from Lewisham, are believed to have died with an invasive form of the Strep A bacterial infection in recent months, according to health officials.

Strep A infections are usually mild but they can develop into a more serious illness called invasive Group A Strep (iGAS) infection. While it is important not to panic, parents, teachers and GPs must be vigilant in the face of this wave of infections. In extremely rare cases, children can require urgent treatment.

Parents should therefore trust their own judgement and not delay action. Anyone with a high fever, severe muscle pains, headaches and skin rashes should contact NHS 111 of their GP. Early treatment with antibiotics is vital to preventing further complications.

We don’t fear France

Last night’s 3-0 win over Senegal demonstrated once again the quality England possess all over the pitch. Indeed, finishing the group stage with the best record in the tournament while scoring plenty of goals, keeping clean sheets and recording no defeats, England could scarcely be better placed as they prepare for the quarter-finals.

That’s the good news. The bad news is they now face the defending champions and one of the favourites for the World Cup, France. But to win football’s biggest prize, you have to beat the best. England know they can do it. Bring on Saturday night.