The resilience of the West End – as captured in Shaftesbury’s results yesterday – is not surprising. Globally significant hotspots do not lose their light permanently just because somebody (in this case government) flicks the switch off for a couple of years. It’s a fine thing, too – whilst geographically separate from the City, the charms of Soho continue to be a draw for talented folk from around the world, encouraging them to pursue a career here rather than somewhere else. Frankfurt doesn’t have a Soho House, after all.
As ever with anything that is envied globally, though, we seem intent on getting in our own way. Just as the City has been held back by six years of absurd political machinations over Brexit, or as our world-leading gambling industry has been struggling to read the runes on new betting regulation, or as London as a whole is being battered by higher tax rates, so too is central London facing the vicious threat of further rail strikes.
Let’s be clear – Mick Lynch, clearly enjoying the limelight, has no interest in the capital’s prosperity, nor the retail and hospitality workers who will be hit hard by his union’s industrial action. But while he is most certainly public enemy number one, it is high time somebody in government took responsibility for breaking an ongoing deadlock.
Rail strikes going nowhere
Yesterday the transport secretary declared that he was not going to get involved in negotiations, but that he would facilitate them. This is a fine technical answer, but it’s nonsense on stilts – it is the government’s job, when militant unions and a pseudo-nationalised industry such as rail are at an impasse, to drag both sides around a table and bang their heads together until they reach a conclusion.
Gentle encouragement from the sidelines is simply failing to do their duty to the country’s businesses and commuters. Hoping that Mick Lynch becomes constructive is not going to work. Won’t somebody in Whitehall take charge?