David Cameron is vulnerable on flood defences, having cut the budget while blowing huge amounts on green subsidies and overseas aid. But who will point this out? Certainly not the Labour Party. John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, was on the radio this morning claiming, bizarrely, that the Tories were quite right to spend so much on climate change because that is somehow tackling the flood problem “at source”.
“If you look at the money we’re spending overseas, and if you cut that… we’re tackling the issue at source. For example, we’re reducing dependency on fossil fuels. If we do that [cut foreign aid] it would be a short-term saving but a long-term cost.”
I’m not sure if he believes the floods to be the direct result of current CO2 emissions and, if so, how he explains earlier, worse floods. But, anyway, the Tories get a free pass: McDonnell instead proposes a cross-party agreement on flood defences on the rather touching assumption that Labour will win the next election and continue the agreement. Here he is:-
Perhaps the worst thing about the green agenda is its lobotomising effect: the way that reason is thrown out of the window. I have boringly orthodox views on climate change. But I’ve never worked out why, if you accept the link between human activity and global warming, you are not allowed to ask about the efficacy of green measures. The Stern Review, a massive doorstopping report, avoided this question.
If you accept your house was subsiding, you wouldn’t pay a man £100,000 to prop it up with golden matchsticks: you’d ask just how much the proposed solution would mitigate the problem. And if the answer is ‘not in any meaningful way’ then you’d spend money in better ways.
If the green subsidies will not reduce UK flood risk in any meaningful way, then perhaps maybe more of the cash could be spent on flood defences? Indeed, if you fear the worst for climate change then doesn’t it make sense to protect those you believe to be exposed now – rather than spend money on something that may or may not make a tiny difference in a hundred years’ time?
Nigel Lawson once observed that the worst mistakes in government happen when there is a cross-party consensus and, ergo, no proper scrutiny. So it has proved.