The chairman of the Environment Agency is flying home from his holiday in Barbados, love him, to visit those who have been affected by flooding. That’ll be Sir Phillip Dilley who, we are told by the red tops, earns £100k for working three days a week. The great sin, according to the press, is the fact that he went to Barbados in the first place, despite the fact that his wife is a Barbadian and her family live there. A bigger sin is that he is paid so much for doing so little but the bigger sin even than that is the imposition of huge cuts to the agency’s budget.
So, Dilley’s return from the West Indies is purely symbolic. There’s nothing useful he can do. It would be no more meaningful than having Iain Duncan Smith return home from holiday to sort someone’s benefit claim out or Theresa May attending to a house fire. Leave it to the professionals, eh?
And leave it to the professionals after they have been properly funded, which they are not being at the moment.
Dilley will take the heat for this. Perhaps that’s why he earns so much money in the first place. It’s probably his last pay off before heading off into his sunset years among the palm trees on a pension that will probably not see him needing to claim pension tax credits.
What is it about demanding politicians and public figures breaking off their holidays in order to pose for photographs? Those on the ground, the Environment Agency staff are brilliant, as have been the police and the armed forces. Someone like Dilley, who is probably an expert in accountancy and not sand bags, will just get in the way and, probably, piss people off.
At least the gutter press are not – yet – calling for Jeremy Corbyn to return from his holiday in Malta, although I would actually welcome it if he did. The government is reeling on the ropes like a punch-drunk boxer and in his absence Labour has been pitiful in reaction to their failings. What is Corbyn’s deputy Tom Watson up to? Now is the time to get angry with the Cameron and Osborne, the architects of huge cuts to government spending on food defences. I can’t blame Corbyn for this one, but is there no one who can take charge in his absence?
Someone please speak up for the poor people in the north of England, many of whom have lost something, some of whom have lost everything. Apart from Cameron’s platitudes – lies, actually – about increased flood defence spending, no one seems to have noticed the human tragedy being played out on an industrial scale.
Dilley’s back, he’s coming up to shake some hands, to see for himself what’s going on. Well, thanks for that. Meanwhile, the rain keeps falling and the waters keep rising and no one has the first idea what to do. And when it stops raining, the rest of the country will be asked to forget all about it until next time. It’s not good, is it?