But there is, nevertheless, a certain irony in the fact that all the areas underwater and suffering significantly in both Somerset and Berkshire are Tory or LibDem constituencies.
I derive no pleasure from this. There is no sense of schadenfreude in this blog. But it needs to be noted that a vote for those parties at the last election was a vote for massive cuts in public services. And one cannot blame the two parties concerned. They made it absolutely clear that reduced public expenditure was their priority, and that this policy was what distinguished them from the irresponsible spending advocated by new Labour.
We can say many things about the Tories, but we cannot, in this instance, accuse them of misleading us. Cameron and his egregious Bullingdon colleague Osborne have done what they said they would do. They made a commitment to slash public spending. And they have stuck to it. Indiscriminately.
The rhetoric of this commitment did not, of course, involve environmental issues. The language used concerned itself with the importance of punishing wastrels and welfare fraudsters. It targeted the unemployed, and the single mothers, and those with a spare bedroom.
But the rhetoric is one thing. The reality another.
The term ‘public spending’, even here in the UK, the original welfare state, is not wholly or even primarily about what we call welfare.
It is also about the protection and conservation of our physical environment, as the likes of Cameron in his new green wellies and Barbour jacket have suddenly realised. “Money is no object” he tells us. But like the disciple Peter he thrice denied that he would reverse the decision to make 500 redundancies in the flood risk management department of the Environment Agency.
As any Tory will confirm, money is the object. There will be some short-term help and farmers and dairy workers will be grateful for it. But as the news moves on – it already is – the original priorities will re-assert themselves. Budgets will continue to be cut. Investment will still be reduced. The bankers in public-owned banks will once again receive their bonuses as a reward for another year of massive losses.
They did warn us. And the good people of Somerset and Berkshire voted for them on that basis. To their cost.
Maybe next time, we should all give consideration to the real meaning of public spending. Welfare is well fare. All the people faring well. And the welfare state is by the people, for the people, on behalf of the people.
All the people.
Today from the everysmith vaults: Ella Fitzgerald at the Carnegie Hall in 1978. She was in her 60s but her wonderful voice was pure, and clear and effortless as she gives new life to the Great American Songbook.