Dealing with Covid is hard enough for cities like Manchester. Centralised power and a shambolic government make it even harder

At the heart of England’s passage through the Covid-19 era are two key factors which have combined to create a mess of failure and mishap.

One is the government’s simple incompetence. The other centres on a centralised system of power and administration that no longer works – something now vividly manifest in just about every aspect of the crisis, from the way rules and restrictions are being landed on places without warning, to a national test-and-trace system whose dysfunction has been clear for months. Put the two together, and you end up with the drama that is now being replayed over and over again: hapless, hopeless people at the top, trying to fight the pandemic using machinery that has long since rusted to the point of uselessness, while those on the ground insist they could do a better job if only they were given the chance.

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