So here we go again. A New Year and yet the same old story is being peddled to death – Corbyn is crap and dangerous and now is going to purge all the sane minded members of his shadow cabinet to replace them with rabid left wing crackpots who want to start the revolution. This is all nonsense for one very specific reason. We are four and half years from the next election so what happens now has little or no bearing on what might or might not be facing a prospective Labour Prime Minister in 2020, whomever he or she might be.
What of course really matters at the moment is the weather, as it always does in Britain. Instead of snow we seem to be suffering from a surfeit of rain which surprise surprise has cause significant flooding in places where it normally floods. Of course nowadays we try to imagine that such matters don’t happen and that we should have flood barriers that should stop such matters. Unfortunately we seem to be experiencing rainfall much above the expected that many of flood barriers have been ‘overtopped’, a horrible word that seems to have become the accepted term for too much water for the barriers.
To start with hardly anything was mentioned about the flooding because it was ‘oop north’ and what are villages in the Lake District when compared to a few house in the Thames Valley? Eventually even the news organisations appeared to understand that this was an important news so we got wall to wall coverage from the worst type of coverage which usually starts with the introduction…”..we now go live to … “ as if being in one spot is going to be able to give anything other than a distorted picture.
Then the question started to be asked about the competence of the people running the operation by those directly affected by the decisions made. Whilst it is understandable for the people flooded to be frustrated and angry it doesn’t mean that what they have to say has any real relevance on the management of a crises which is spread over hundreds of square kilometres and involving thousands or houses. It also has to be remembered that the best that can be achieve in these situations is that the problems can be ameliorated rather than solved. Water is a very heavy and when you get a lot of it very quickly nothing is going to stop it flowing where it wants to go. (Just to illustrate the point the diagram below shows the catchment area of the River Soar in Leicestershire. So to try and manage the flood problem in Loughborough involves managing the flood problem in Leicester, Melton Mowbray and all of the Soar Valley settlements which covers around around 750 thousand people – not easy)
(The River Soar catchment area in Leicestershire. The rivers are in blue.)
As the flood waters started to subside another question was beings asked about how much money was being spent to try and stop flooding and it became very clear very quickly that there had been significant cuts in these funds since 2010. The exact figures are in dispute but there have been cuts. This looked like a serious situation but thankfully helps was at hand a story of total irrelevance appeared to divert the public’s attention away from the cuts. It seems that the head of the Environment Agency was on holiday over the Christmas period and hadn’t cancelled it when the flooding occurred. To add a little colour to this we find out that he wasn’t sitting on the beach in Los Cristianos but rather staying at a ‘luxury villa’ on Barbados. Just to add the final twist to this spun story I am sure I read somewhere that his earns more than the Prime Minister, as if this had any relevance. All of sudden all the press want to talk about is this rather than the cuts in flood defences funds. Call me an old cynic but doesn’t this sound too much like a diversion spun by the Tory party spin doctors, especially those around George Osborne, who desperately want to make the story about anything than the cuts that George Osborne imposed.
So this is what we have to look forward to. Every story to be spun to show George Osborne to look great and every story spun to make Jeremy Corbyn look like an imbecile. In the meantime the real people of Britain try and get on with their lives whilst being neglected because it doesn’t fit George’s narrative. So let’s forget that we have one of the worst housing crises in living memory because too few house are being built and the government won’t do anything meaningful about it. That we are having a pointless referendum that few outside of the rabid wing of the Tory party want and could result in the biggest change to the country since the early 17th century just to please a few spives and chancers who see this as a way on making money on the backs of ordinary people. Compared to what might happen should we leave the EU the murderous outrages of those who claim to be ISIS supporters is going to be small beer.
Just before the end of last year if watched Charlie Brooker’s 2015 review which usually takes less than reverential look at the last 12 months. Unfortunately, even he could find few laughs in the horror that was 2015. I dread to think what he will make of 2016 come the end of December. Trump President? Out of the EU? George Osborne Prime Minister? No wonder the creators of the Thick of It won’t make anymore episodes.
Happy New Year everyone.