Is Eric Pickled?

So, Eric Pickles has waded into the debate on what to do about the flooding (if not into the actual floodwaters) and has declared that no money can be diverted from the bottomless pit of overseas aid to assist British citizens suffering a disaster on the grounds that the money will be spent to combat global warming and thus prevent flooding in Britain. Okay, let us cast aside all doubt about whether global warming exists and whether it is wholly or partly man-made. Let us cast aide, too, the fact that the money will do nothing to cut the pollution pumped out by China and the USA, the main culprits in the scenario. And, to be generous, let us cast aside doubt that the money will be blown on fools’ errands and bribery and corruption, failing to achieve their stated aims. Let us, in short, assume that the money that Pickles speaks of really will have an impact on the threat of flooding in years to come. His argument still doesn’t, and please excuse the pun, hold water. There are substantial amounts of foreign aid money being spent on all sorts of projects, many of them with no real value at all, that have absolutely nothing to do with preventing climate change. It would be no great task to find the relatively paltry amounts required to assist flood victims and improve flood defences by diverting such wasted money back to the UK. Not, of course, that that is likely to happen – the beancounters have earmarked it for overseas aid and overseas it must go regardless of the circumstances. The only hope for Somerset is that it will soon be both over (as well as under) seas thanks to the flooding and reduced to a state somewhere around the bottom end of the definition ‘third world’ allowing for its inclusion within the overseas aid budget.

Of course, it’s no surprise that the fools in Westminster, such as Pickles, couldn’t give a damn about the people suffering in a mess that they’ve created, as it seems to be the predominant attitude of the chattering classes. Some stupid woman on Sky News’ newspaper review program summed the smug idiocy of such people up by saying that the people of Somerset didn’t deserve government assistance as people who chose to live in a flood zone should expect to see the fact reflected in their insurance premiums. Um, wait a minute… in many cases we’re not talking about people who ‘chose’ to live in the area – they were born there and come from families that have been there for centuries (and who managed the land with greater efficiency than the Environment Agency has). And, as such severe and regular flooding has only become a problem recently due to the failure to dredge rivers or maintain flood defences properly, it can hardly be said that anyone save those who moved in most recently ‘chose’ to live in an area prone to natural disaster. Which neatly reminds us that the government has not maintained its side of the bargain it makes with the citizenry – the people of Somerset paid their taxes and the government squandered them rather than make sure that they had a safe living environment and the rule of law is upheld (witness the looting of abandoned property). Why has the area not been declared a disaster zone and proper measures implemented to rescue and assist people and secure their property? Laziness and contempt!

Related to such contempt for ordinary people is the statement by Lord Finsbury that has been echoed by his apologists that there must be a trade-off between saving the countryside and saving the cities. At least a few people have had the honesty to state that such a viewpoint is predicated upon urban areas having more votes than rural areas, thus making the issue one of populist vote-grubbing rather than doing their jobs properly, but quite often the statement has been presented as if the urban area has more worth than the rural (despite the fact that farms are where we get our food from, which people tend to need to eat or die), even to the extent of saying that the priority is saving lives then saving homes then businesses and then farms. Um, do not the decision-makers not understand that most farms are both home and business? More vital businesses than most shops? If they find that fact hard to grasp, they probably shouldn’t be running things.

But, the town versus country division is something of a false one anyway, unless the suggestion is that floodwaters should be pumped out towns and into the countryside to drown the less-important rural folk? Urban areas do not exist in isolation but are surrounded by rural regions and proper maintenance of flood defences and dredging and adequate planning would benefit both equally. And are we to believe that nobody in towns has relatives in ‘the countryside’ (which includes villages and small provincial towns, remember) and that none of them ever holiday in rural areas? Are townies a homogenous mass with no ties at all to the areas being devastated, or are there plenty who are worried about why their relatives’ homes are being devastated or who could be caught up in such a disaster whilst on holiday?

It is time that the imbeciles clogging up Westminster began doing their jobs properly. If they had put as much effort into finding the funding for dredging as they did into defrauding the taxpayer with their expenses claims, Britain wouldn’t be suffering as it has. I have no confidence that should disaster afflict Southend-on-Sea that the government would be any better prepared to respond to it than it has in Somerset. But, I do demand that they become so!


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