View from City Hall: We need MPs to scrutinise curbs and ensure we are safe. But don’t water down rules

Andrew Dismore would laugh at the Conservative's Covid incompetence if it wasn't so serious.

Andrew Dismore would laugh at the Conservative's Covid incompetence if it wasn't so serious. - Credit: Archant

But Boris Johnson doesn’t have the patience or application to absorb detail, relying instead on bullying, distortion and waffle. Now his tactics are as exposed as his dangerous incompetence.

What happened to Johnson’s “world beating” test and trace system, promised months ago? It’ll be another month before sufficient capacity - if you believe health secretary “Moonshot” Matt Hancock.

A third of London’s testing capacity was quietly moved north, resulting in figures giving a sense of security in the capital – but only because people couldn’t get tested promptly. Now other data has been analysed - NHS 111 calls, GP contact and hospital admissions - showing that the prevalence in London is far higher and could compare to those parts of north-east and north-west England under more stringent restrictions. We could well be heading for another London lockdown. Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance says: “We don’t have this under control at the moment” - what an understatement.

If it wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable that Johnson had to apologise for getting wrong his own complex Covid rules. Clearly his father didn’t understand them either, being caught shopping without face covering and at an airport with his mask under his chin. It all started to go wrong after No 10 adviser Dominic Cummings broke the rules on his Durham jaunt and got away with it, not even apologising. One rule for the Tory elite, another for everyone else. Top scientist Professor Neil Ferguson, rather more useful to us than Cummings, resigned for rule breaking. Hitherto good compliance fell away - we all can see how many selfish people don’t comply, with no face coverings in shops and public transport, endangering everyone else. The government’s concession graciously allowing parliamentary oversight of Covid restrictions is overdue and welcome. We need MPs to scrutinise and ensure we are safe. But this should not be a green light to Conservative libertarian right wingers and whacky Covid deniers, intending to water down the rules, hazarding our safety.