HOLMSEY: Sinking under bad news

pic: Karl Love

The unfolding horror in the Middle East meant the final Prime Minister’s Questions before recess was unusually congenial. Sir Keir was statesmanlike; no awkward questions about inflation remaining stubbornly high, or prisoners being released early.

Do you remember Labour aide, Jo Moore’s 9/11 message, 22 years ago? She said the Twin Towers terrorist attack was “a good day to bury bad news”. A cynical tradition was established, Westminster politicians and their advisers are fixated on news management. In the final days before MPs leave parliament for recess, the government releases a slew of reports and statistics in an attempt to bury them. They know the news industry is like a butterfly, landing fleetingly on anything just long enough until something more interesting comes along. That’s why individual politicians try to tough it out when they’re caught doing something shameful.

Since the horrific October 7 terror attack on Israel, Sir Keir has been under exceptional pressure. There’s widespread dissent from the left within, and that’s the last thing he needs when he hopes to lead the nation.

Most other news stories slipped down the agenda until the rains came! These days, the Met Office issues so many dire warnings many of us tend to assume they’re crying wolf. When Binstead flooded in 2021, I knew people whose homes were ruined. It’s not just carpets and sofas getting wet, flood water is foul; the disgusting contents of sewers erupted in a stinking mess. Binstead residents even elected Ian Dore for council, because he promised to find solutions. Good man, Ian.

A friend lived on Riverside Road in Wrayside, near Heathrow; the clue is in the name. Since the 50s, whenever there’s a deluge, the Thames has flooded. Riverside Road is on a natural bend in the river, but the flood water flows straight on – right through the houses. After it last happened, every single resident who lived through it sold up and moved to higher ground. Incredibly, new people then willingly paid well over £1,000,000 to live there, clearly not believing there would be another “unusual weather event”.

In Florida last month, I asked my mate, Frederick, why having had three hurricanes and devastating floods in quick succession, local residents were just rebuilding again. He told me, “They think if it has happened three times, it surely won’t happen again.”

In recent years we’ve been beating up the water companies because our drains and sewers can’t cope with heavy rainfall. The untreated sewage released into our coastal waters got so bad that eventually, even Bob Seely stirred himself, voting to give them more time to invest in extra capacity! The truth is since privatisation, these greedy utility companies have taken billions from us in shareholder dividends. Now it seems we need to pay them all over again.

Bob’s second decisive act was to offer a select few a free water butt, to take some rainwater from the roof. When the torrential rains arrived last week, all doubt was removed that like our crumbling infrastructure, the Island MP isn’t fit for purpose. He’s not responsible for the rain, but politicians are 100 per cent responsible for regulating water companies. He knew we urgently needed significant investment years ago; he voted for the opposite.

I extend my heartfelt sympathy to all those who’ve suffered and a big ‘Well done’ to the people I’ve seen helping them. People like RenoDrain and John Smith at Westridge deserve praise for supplying tons of free sand. Surprisingly, there seem to be no pictures yet of that expert photo-bomber, Bob Seely, filling sandbags. Perhaps he’s finally working on upgrading those sewers, work that should have started years ago.