Politicians and Britain's Floods: Lessons learnt or just hot air, Wellington Boots and photo-opportunities?

A large part of Britain is flooded, in case you didn’t know. It’s been raining for weeks and storms have been raging too. It’s not good news for the many people flooded out of their homes.

Parts of England are now impassable.

And these picturesque scenes are an illusion of tranquillity.

This is an on-going climactic disaster for a large part of the UK. We have been watching it develop since last December and the weather forecasts show no hope for these conditions ending any time soon. The English poet John Donne wrote that “no man is an island entire of itself” but the owner of this house in Somerset must wonder if the poet had got it right.

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne (1572 – 1631)
 
David Cameron, the British prime minister, told the nation once that we’re all in this together. Well, let’s see. We are not alone, he implies, so do not fear. In the second month of the floods, our political leaders have put on their Wellington Boots and paddled around in front of the press cameras.

Prime Minister, David Cameron paddling.

They were responding to the growing feeling in Britain that our leaders were not acting decisively or effectively enough. Sadly they believe that the electorate just needs a few photo opportunity moments of them in their wet weather gear and we’ll all forgive and forget as soon as the water drains away. Let’s not fall for that old trick.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg paddling

Leader of the Opposition, Ed Milliband paddling

Well, now that they’ve seen for themselves that Britain is actually flooded they might start to look further than the short term. Britain is experiencing one version of global climate change while Australia is sweltering in another. In the midst of disaster, maybe we should look to the causes of so-called global warming and actually tell our politicians to do a hell of a lot more about it.

Yesterday, David Cameron, flanked presidentially by Union Jack flags as a hint to Scotland and doing his best to look like a leader, told us that as far as the floods were concerned “money is no object” – he has also repeated what must be by now one of his most famous catch-phrases: “Lessons must be learnt.” This is especially true for someone who so consistently either gets things wrong or doesn’t see trouble coming.

Some of those lessons, Mr Cameron, are that you shouldn’t be cutting back on “green policies” with austerity cuts as you told us last year. Britain and the rest of the world needs to embrace the reality of climate change and to clock that it might actually be more expensive to ignore it than to do something about it. If you’re really serious about doing something about the floods then this is what “money no object” should mean.

I’m hopeful, in a goofy kind of way, that a World without atmospheric pollution, with clean air and green fields might actually be a better World to live in. If we let this get out of control we will all be the worse off. The World is our island and we must unite to protect both it and ourselves.

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Lessons learnt? I doubt it.

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STEPHEN DEARSLEY’S SUMMER OF LOVE BY COLIN BELL

My novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love, was published  on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.


It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region’s Amazon site for Kindle orders)

You can order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:
…or from Book Depository:

…or from Amazon:

One comment

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