Sunday Blog 3: February 23 2020

Dredge the Rivers

Experts from the Environment Agency continue to exhibit a reluctance to put at the top of their agenda dredging those rivers which pass through towns and villages, on their way to the sea. Some urban floods are caused by the sewers becoming overwhelmed by water volume and the remedy here is to enhance the underground network, much of which is Victorian. But all too often it is rising rivers or incoming tides which do the damage, and will go on doing so.  Flood defences help, and preventive eco management upstream will help even more, but in the longer term.

Meanwhile a crisis exists now in the lives of far too many and some current action with the power to have immediate preventive effect is urgent. Every time a farmer from a family which has managed the same land for generations comes on the media, the response always gets round to river maintenance and a failure to dredge. Over recent decades there has been a focused and successful effort to improve water quality, but because most rivers are no longer transport arteries with extensive traffic of both people and cargo, little has been done to maintain their depth. River dredging is now a priority for which the people’s government will have to come up with the cash. Not token sums spread over forever, but real money for work now.

A Double Squeeze on Business

We begin to get a better feel for the way our new people’s government thinks. It thinks the private sector is inefficient and relies too much on cheap migrant labour and cheap imports. It trades in easy bespoke markets and fails to invest in skills training, because it can hire off the EU shelf whatever staff it needs. Meanwhile well qualified Brits are doing unskilled jobs, more than one in many cases, in order to pay their bills. Employment is at record levels of high while productivity¬† plumbs record levels of low.

So making immigration difficult and having the flimsiest trade deal with the EU, which is barely worth having, is a good way to force business to mend its ways and power up. When Boris said ‘f….. business’ it was not, after all, a slip of the tongue.

This blog is not sure all the traditional Tory voters expected this. But the people’s government, now safely elected, does not care about that either.

Beating Trump

This is possible, but difficult. If the Democrats become obsessed by beating Trump, they will likely fail. But if they concentrate on winning the presidency because they have a Federal programme which chimes with the urgent needs of American voters, they stand a good chance of succeeding. They need someone who can capture the hearts of young America, secure the wallets of the doing okay and give real hope to the left behind. If they can do that they will likely win. Beating Trump in the process would be the bonus.

Ministers Under Fire

There has been a lot of comment about ministers in the new government this week, or rather about their absence from the scene. Especially the prime minister hidden in the Kent countryside at Chevening and Priti Patel who is having a bust up with the Home Office Permanent Secretary. There is a lot of briefing and counter briefing from opposing sides, but little of any of it is official. Commentators and reporters are finding themselves in a kind of desert of political stories. This requires gossip to become news.

The truth is that for good or bad, the government sees ministers as action people to get things done. For too long, the spin goes, ministerial rank has acquired celebrity status, distracting attention from weak and procrastinated outcomes. This has contributed to the State in a process of decay. The government knows it has to reverse it or become electoral toast. Public services across the piece have to start working as they are supposed to and infrastructures failures, to which we can now add rivers, ditches and sewers, have to be remedied. The cost of all this is not a billion here and there over x years. It is more immediate and mind blowingly big. Very soon the new Chancellor will have to start telling us how much and where it will come from. No wonder in the meantime ministers are more than willing to accede to the gagging demands of Gang Master Cummings.


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