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Blame game is as predictable as the weather

By West Briton  |  Posted: February 13, 2014

Comments (1)

I KNOW. I know. It's all my fault, voting as I did, for same-sex marriage ... .

The deluge and tempest has been unremitting. Even in the normally arid London area I've rarely survived my ten-mile daily return cycle ride between digs and Westminster without a good drenching.

With "phenomenal" waves in excess of 70 feet, it is clear that the devastation I witnessed (on my tour around the constituency at the weekend) has nevertheless brought out the best of our local public services and our community spirit.

We need and deserve central government support and some is already on its way.

The demolished rail service is also a preoccupation, not just of commuting MPs. I urged the Prime Minister and Transport Secretary to recognise that if local MPs from across all parties recognise that they cannot deny those who desire investment in multibillion-pound HS2 and other transport links to the north, the least the Government can do is to ensure that we receive just a fraction of that level of investment to provide a resilient rail service between Penzance and Paddington that we need.

The recent tempestuous cloud has produced a silver lining. We've made more progress in the last few days for our campaign for the multi-million-pound investment necessary to improve the reliability of our rail service than we have done in the last decade. Government ministers are now falling over themselves to make sure that the necessary resources are found.

But, what is the answer? As ever, there is an inverse relationship between ignorance and certainty: the less people know of the facts the more certain they are that they know what the answer is. I've been told about many solutions, including the building of a new tunnel through Haldon Hill between Exeter and Newton Abbott. I simply ask, 'how much and what timescale?'

But this has not halted the predictable industry of urgent pontification. We certainly need an answer, but it has to be based on robust evidence and careful consideration of the facts and the options.

There is always one factor more predictable in British life than the weather – the inevitability that usually loud and ignorant people will demand scapegoats, whatever the circumstances.

Never mind that this has been the wettest January on record, that we've never seen waves as large and that the wind speeds have been exceptional. You'd think, from some of the comments, from commentators who appear to be untroubled by their lack of grasp of the facts, that if they had their way, the Somerset Levels would now be as arid as the Sahara and the Thames would be tamed to a tributary.

Obviously, this is a time when any self-respecting prime minister gets their dressing up box out, dons a high-vis jacket and furrowed brow for the cameras and says meaningful and decisive-sounding things.

He's right about one thing. The blame game industrialists, who have been working overtime, are contributing nothing to finding a solution.

But the pyres are already being prepared for the ritual witch burning; and the effigies of scapegoats shaped to be hung out to dry ... or perhaps to soak.

Even those who lost us millions by mistaking the campaign for improvements to Penzance Harbour as an opportunity for axe-grinding and to pursue personal enmities have crawled out from behind their stones to blame anybody but themselves.

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