Wednesday 13 November 2019

The Shape of Tory Things to Come

As the floods have swamped parts of the Midlands and Northern England, it's becoming obvious the reception Boris Johnson has received during his "hands-on" photo opps visits are a growing calamity as fas as the Tory party's campaign is concerned. Whether having trouble working out how to use a mop in Matlock to initially refusing to engage with local south Yorkshire media to getting it in the ear from outraged residents, his performance was woeful. Johnson might have refused to declare the floods a national disaster, but that's sure what his campaign is looking like. Contrast this with the approach Jeremy Corbyn took, with swift calls for decisive action backed by properly funded flood prevention/management. Johnson has shown himself to be an utter shambles, and when push comes to shove he has to be forced to affect concern for ordinary people coping with disaster.

There's a strange pattern concerning Tory Prime Ministers and their response to these kinds of events. Back in early 2014, Dave was caught short in his response to the winter floods in the South West and parts of Wales. What didn't help matters was how the axe had fallen on flood defence spending during his watch thanks to his government's deficit monomania. Unsurprisingly, he wanted to avoid getting berated in public by an angry farmer ruined for the sake of pennies, or villages full of people forced from their homes by rising water. I'm sure all these people were positively glowing when Sajid Javid thanked the British people for their sacrifices during the years of public spending cuts.

And Theresa May too, you'll remember, was pilloried for her lacklustre response to the Grenfell fire tragedy. When the official visit finally took place and she spoke to residents, it was after Jeremy Corbyn had led the way and, incredibly, Andrea Leadsom. As May studiously avoided all but the most tightly controlled encounter with the general public in that year's election, even to the point of helicoptering in to a remote Scottish location without public transport links for a meeting with the Tory faithful, one can only imagine how she would have coped with a Grenfell family raw with grief and seething with anger that, again, penny pinching had cost the lives of friends and neighbours.

There's more than an inability to handle normal people going on here. If the Tories truly, genuinely believed their policies were doing the right thing they wouldn't be so shamefaced about being held to account for them. But they know their cuts and underfunding come with real costs borne by others. A flick of a pen here and the deletion of a budget line there can be washed down with a glass of port, but they absolutely hate it when the distance government and privilege affords collapses and truth of their decisions thrusts itself into their face. Out and about in inundated Yorkshire fields, a creature like Johnson knows he is exposed to the unknown. When everyone has a camera filming every move, handshake and conversation, the danger his crafted image might slip is ever present. And so it has proved. Small wonder it is now Conservative Party strategy not to go wall-to-wall with Johnson who, you will remember, won the leadership contest on account of his being an electoral asset.

In the grand scheme of things, is it going to matter? Readers will also recall that, in 2014, despite Tory culpability for the damage wrought on the South West how, just over a year later, the Liberal Democrats were turfed out of their strongholds. Save Bristol and Exeter the West Country was awash with Conservative blue. This time, however, the floods have just happened and given the forecasts the weather might get worse as the campaign grinds on. There's no chance of their disappearing down the memory hole. Now this doesn't mean that affected rural constituencies are bound to turn to Jeremy Corbyn in protest - though who wouldn't welcome the emergence of the shy Labour voter? - but it could suppress the Tory vote out of utter disgust with the government's couldn't-be-arsed response. This puts a hole in Johnson's so-called red wall strategy and calls into question their ability to take the seats that need to fall their way, which isn't at all helped by Nigel Farage's half-surrender either.

The floods are a terrible tragedy for all involved, but they are a foretaste of what is to come if Boris Johnson is returned with a majority. Haphazard, unfocused and everything-on-the-cheap spending on flood defence and essential infrastructure, zero action taken against factors exacerbating flooding, and a general care-free attitude so long as it doesn't impact Johnson's toffee-nosed kind of people is going to be our lot. You can't say we weren't warned in advance.

Image Credit


Ken said...

Today’s news is that 1.5m new voters have applied for their polling cards. Is there any evidence of which way they vote and their geographical concentration?
My guess would be
disproportionally younger
disproportionally anti-Tory though not necessarily pro-Labour
disproportionally concentrated in more urban areas.
2,307 on average per constituency might be important in marginals with a majority of under a 1,000

CCAAC said...

The Tory party is a miserable cesspit of racists, which is why the Jewish chronicle is cheerleading them all the way to victory.

Having said that, flood defence is not the answer here, maybe better management of the rivers yes, and maybe if those folks berating Boris wouldn't mind consuming a bit less, that might help too. What they appear to want is someone to bail them out to support their insurance costs or lackof.

The committees garage fell down recently and I can't remember the PM promising to cover those costs, so wtf should the flood 'victims' get taxpayers money?

If Corbyn did win the election we wouldn’t hold out much hope of him surviving too long, given what happened to Morales in Bolivia.

Bolivia was the economic success story of Latin America and even in those conditions he was overthrown in a coup!

Literally no one can accept the results of elections anymore, every time someone wins the other side claim something nefarious.

We don’t see the point of elections, especially in the periphery where whoever you vote for you get US national interests served.


The Chairman of the Committee Against American Culture (CCAAC)

Blissex said...

«The floods are a terrible tragedy for all involved»

In many, many cases they are a big profit opportunity for speculators: build on flood land during a dry period, because flood land is cheaper, then when the inevitable flood happens call for taxpayers money to turn it into dry land, and cash in a massive valuation uplift. Some individual speculators buy willingly into these schemes, knowing that if they cry on telly their property may soar by a large amount if the government is pressured into building the flood defences.
To help these schemes the Conservatives have relaxed considerably the planning permission process, a commenter on another blog reported:

“200,000 new houses were built on the flood plain whilst at present there are almost 500,000 homes that have been given planning permission and are waiting to be built on the flood plain. In 2011 the coalition government relaxed planning rules. Since then local planning authorities no longer had to report cases where they ignored EA advice and it has also become easier for them to approve planning applications in high-risk areas.”

Even with just £100,000 of valuation uplift for each of those 200,000 properties deliberately put on flood plains, that's £20 billion of property speculation gains that taxpayer money could pay for.