OPINION - The Standard View: Bittersweet joy of a modern heatwave

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

GET out the sunscreen and put the fizz on ice — summer is back for a final flourish. Temperatures today are forecast to hit 32 degrees, and if they nudge just a little higher it will be a record for the year. Londoners are flocking to the parts of the city best for wonderful weather: beer gardens, open-air swimming spots and our abundance of verdant parks.

Yet for many Londoners the simple joy of soaking up the sun (especially in September) is nowadays tempered by a more uncomfortable feeling. Intense heat is more common on these shores than ever before. We all know it. And it’s not only Britain. The UN has just announced that this summer was the hottest on record for the northern hemisphere.

A steady and frequent roll-call of records and heatwaves, plus direct personal experience — sweating on a roasting Tube train, or sweltering in our bedrooms late at night — has had a clear effect. Nearly two thirds of Britons class themselves as “worried” about climate change according to a recent YouGov survey, while a poll carried out by Public First earlier this year revealed just four per cent of us believe Britain is “well prepared” for more hot summers, which science tells us are coming.

So today’s glorious weather carries a tinge of worry. Such is the cumulative effect of the weather in Britain in the last few years. It is possible both to enjoy the sun while also feeling anxious about the effects of climate change. Wise politicians would do well to realise this and commit to real action to calm those fears.

Stride on, Mel

THE numbers are eyebrow-raising. Some 2.4 million people claim incapacity benefits. That figure has risen steeply since the pandemic. Today Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, announced that many of those people will be told to work from home, among other planned changes.

There is a delicate balance to be struck. Disability charities warn that people may be unfairly pressured into finding work, which will only exacerbate their problems. These planned reforms must be carried out with an awareness of the differing circumstances of individuals. But Mr Stride is right to embark on this course. Much more must be done to help people back into work. The rise in home working presents just such an opportunity.

Best of British

Marks and Spencer is back with a bang. It rejoined the FTSE100 last week and has now announced Sienna Miller as the new face of its fashion collection. After years in the style wilderness, Marks has rediscovered its sparkle.