Wednesday, 25 July 2007


Scenes of homes in picturesque old towns in central England under water have understandably provoked a wave of sympathy around the country.

And rightly so. But similar scenes in the not-quite-so-quaint cities of Hull, Sheffield and Leeds haven't met with the same response.
Maybe this is because the Seven and Thames valleys are not just geographically in central England, they are also very much in Middle England.

I have complete sympathy for those whose homes are devastated, and I wish them well in obtaining justice from those thieving bastards at the insurance companies who only ever seem to want to provide cover for those eventualities that are never actually going to happen. So they are now questioning the renewal of flood cover for anybody living in areas prone to flooding.

BUT no one seems to be picking up on the irony of Middle England bleating that it's all the government's fault.

Generally I'm all for blaming most of the evils of the past few years on New Labour, but even I think that blaming the bad weather on them is stretching it a bit. Although there is of course a serious underlying argument here about the possible effects of global warming, and a lack of investment in infrastructure .

And here's the issue;

Middle England is the land that baulks at the prospect of taxation and public spending - and civil engineering on the scale to provide adequate flood defences doesn't come cheap. This is also the land that believes it's every citizen's right to own their own Barratt home, whether it's in a flood plain or not. It's the land that said local authorities shouldn't get in the way of private property developers. And its Middle England who supported and profited from the privatisation of public utilities the water companies who haven't updated their sewage and mains systems.

I don't believe in divine retribution - but you can see a certain irony in all this. A bit like when the Countryside Alliance complained about the loss of rural jobs having voted Tory for years and not supported other workers (like the miners) trying to save their jobs.

And finally, to all those Little Englanders who are now saying that we should stop foreign aid and divert the resources to domestic flood relief - get some fucking perspective! Comparisons with the devastation of the tsunami or Hurricane Katrina are in very poor taste.

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