RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: London calling.. Khan is working for the clampdown
15th October 2020

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: London calling… Genghis is working for the clampdown

Spare us the crocodile tears, Genghis. London’s two-bob chancer of a mayor Sadiq Khan claims to be on a mission to save the hospitality industry.

At the same time, he’s calling for the complete closure of our capital city, which would deliver the coup de grace to the hundreds of pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants currently on life-support.

Khan’s been pushing the Government to elevate Greater London into the high-risk Tier Two coronavirus category and is also backing Labour leader Max Headroom’s cynical demand for a national ‘circuit breaker’ — code for plunging the country back into deep-freeze.

Wearing a bizarre combination of padded gilet zipped to the neck under a suit jacket, Khan pre-empted the official announcement that London was, indeed, being put under Tier Two measures from midnight tonight

Yet now he has the chutzpah to pretend: ‘Nobody wants to see any more restrictions.’

Wearing a bizarre combination of padded gilet zipped to the neck under a suit jacket, Khan pre-empted the official announcement that London was, indeed, being put under Tier Two measures from midnight tonight.

Was he suffering from a bout of the Covid shivers, or has the central heating at City Hall been turned off because he can’t pay the gas bill? 

Perhaps this was a less-than-subtle subliminal message to reinforce his demands for more money from the Treasury. 

Either way, he spoke with forked tongue as he warned Londoners they faced a ‘difficult winter ahead’.

Never mind difficult winter, what about the difficult summer caused by his own politically motivated decision to lay London to waste.

‘Nobody wants any more restrictions’? Don’t make me laugh.

This is, after all, the man who embarked on a scorched-earth transport policy in May, hiking fares on Tubes and buses, limiting free travel for pensioners, scrapping it for children and declaring London would become the world’s most car-free city.

He’s already done more long-term damage to London than the Luftwaffe. The only difference is that this time the buildings are still standing, while the population is subject to more oppressive controls than during wartime

Roads were closed, pavements widened and streets littered with cycle lanes, most of which are used sparingly, if at all. Khan also increased the congestion charge by 30 per cent to £15 a day and extended it to 10pm, seven days a week. 

Together with the ultra-low emissions charge, it can now cost £27.50 a day to drive into town, at a time when we are being told to avoid public transport.

At a stroke, he devastated the evening restaurant trade and weekend shopping. 

Together with the Working From Home bonanza, London’s elected mayor has managed to turn the world’s greatest city into a ghost town.

Well, I say ‘elected’. One of the side-effects of lockdown was that the mayoral election scheduled for May was postponed for at least 12 months. So Khan stays on at City Hall for a fifth year without a mandate but free to cause as much havoc as he chooses.

He’s already done more long-term damage to London than the Luftwaffe. The only difference is that this time the buildings are still standing, while the population is subject to more oppressive controls than during wartime.

As The Clash sang on London Calling, he’s Working For The Clampdown.

Now Khan’s managed to bounce an admittedly receptive central Government into imposing still stricter restrictions on nine million Londoners. To be fair, he was pushing on an open door.

When the Three Tier plan was announced, I suspected it wouldn’t be long before London was subjected to the same kind of measures as some Northern cities, despite having a significantly lower rate of Covid ‘cases’.

Together with the Working From Home bonanza, London’s elected mayor has managed to turn the world’s greatest city into a ghost town. Empty tables are seen in London’s Soho

This is, after all, a Conservative Government elected on a promise of ‘levelling up’ the country, eliminating the North-South divide. So it could hardly hammer cities such as Liverpool and Manchester without inflicting pain on London, too.

Failure to subject London to a fresh clampdown would have opened it to charges of: ‘Same old heartless Tories, only interested in the South.’

But rather than introduce local lockdowns in areas with the highest incidence of Covid cases, ministers bowed to Khan’s demand to treat our sprawling metropolis as a single entity.

‘Many Londoners work in one borough, live in another borough, study in another borough, go to a restaurant in another borough, so we’re really keen to go as one city,’ he said. 

No, we’re not. Not at the moment anyway. At the best of times, London is a series of villages, from verdant suburbs to inner-city concrete jungles.

Few people venture far, other than to commute into work in Central London. And especially in the outer boroughs where WFH has become a way of life, there’s little evidence of commuting resuming any time soon.

Nor, with theatres dark and shops boarded up, is there any incentive for anyone to travel into the West End.

So no one from, say, Tottenham, in the north-east, is going to bother driving to Twickenham, in the south-west, for dinner — especially as the restaurant in which they were planning to eat will probably have gone out of business by the time they get there, several hours later.

Where I live, in North London, it’s quicker to drive to Birmingham than Bromley. In fact, I’m much nearer to Hertfordshire than the neighbouring London borough of Haringey.

And there’s another anomaly. While my manor is covered by London’s blanket clampdown, there are no such restrictions in Hertfordshire, ten minutes up the road, across the M25.

I did warn you the New Normal would be ten times worse, and considerably more complicated, than the initial lockdown.

Thanks to the latest kneejerk Lockdown Lite, London’s economic prospects are even more perilous. It is likely to prove the final straw for hundreds of businesses already teetering on the brink.

Yet, according to London’s mayor, the clampdown doesn’t go far enough. In order to score political points, he wants to close the city altogether for ‘two to three weeks’.

Sorry if this seems a bit metrocentric. I have the deepest sympathy for residents of all those Northern cities being forced into virtual house arrest. But London matters because it is the engine of Britain’s economy.

To all those Labour mayors, including Khan, and Wee Burney’s Toytown Tartanistas demanding more ‘financial support’ I have one simple question:

Where the hell do you think the money’s coming from? All those businesses about to go bankrupt pay corporation tax, National Insurance, VAT. Their employees about to be made redundant pay income tax, NI and VAT, too.

Who’s going to make up that shortfall? Who’s going to pay for Our Amazing NHS?

Max Headroom wants to close the economy down again, but even he must be bright enough to know that would only interrupt the spread of corona, not eliminate it.

We now have a Labour Party calling for measures which would put millions of people out of work, many of them permanently.

And, incredibly, a Mayor of London who, for the sake of pathetic, partisan, political posturing, is determined to close down the world’s greatest city, not bring it back to life.

Tragically, he has found willing accomplices in the shape of Tory ministers terrified of being accused of favouring the South over the North.

So instead of levelling up, the Government is now levelling down, even if that means levelling the economy to the ground.

Today’s special Covid edition of Mind How You Go comes from Merseyside, where police raided a gym and fined the owner £1,000 for opening in defiance of Tier Three rules. 

Nick Whitcombe, of Body Tech Fitness, in Moreton, said seven or eight coppers in two vans descended on the premises after an anonymous tip-off from a passing snitch — sorry ‘concerned citizen’.

Makes you proud to be British.

Nick insists he had no alternative other than to stay open. ‘If we close, we won’t have a gym to come back to. There will be no business, no jobs.’

Next time the police crash through his front door, Nick should start doing lunges and thrusting his clenched fist into the air.

If the Old Bill accuse him of working out illegally, he can reply that, on the contrary, he’s actually in training for the next Black Lives Matter demo.

They wouldn’t nick him, they’d all fall to their knees and join in.

Today’s special Covid edition of Mind How You Go comes from Merseyside, where police raided a gym and fined the owner £1,000 for opening in defiance of Tier Three rules

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