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Farage vs. Pickles on the Somerset Floods – Populist Dumb vs. Unpopulist Dumber

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 10 February 2014

I noted yesterday that if life on the Somerset Levels was not unpleasant enough right now, the poor bastards were faced not only with water up to their wastes but with a plague of politicians arriving to promise the earth and do nothing. The flood sound bites yesterday plunged new depths with Farage (UKIP) vs. Pickles (Con).

First up was the UKIP Fuhrer who demanded that the UK stop spending £11 billion a year on foreign aid and divert the cash to fighting the floods. One thing you may notice about UKIP is that whenever there is a problem that foreign aid cash is the answer. Want more hospitals? Axe foreign aid. Want more money for the armed forces? Axe foreign aid. Want to cut the deficit? Axe foreign aid. And so with floods in the news naturally UKIP thinks we should stop sending our cash off to Johnny Foreigner in Bongo Bongo land and look after folks back in Somerset.

As it happens I too would scrap foreign aid too as it achieves nothing other than a transfer of wealth from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. Just as welfare does not work on Benefits Street in the UK, hand-outs do not work in Africa. What Africa needs is capitalism not welfare. I have covered this in detail many times but notably here.

So I would scrap foreign aid entirely to help reduce the UK’s unsustainable budget deficit.

But I recognise that even if I was given carte blanche to implement this, it would take some months to do so.  Meanwhile back in Somerset even if we install a brand new mega-pump by every house and dredge ever single stream or river once a day  the cost would be tens of millions not billions. Farage is plucking numbers from the air and for the nth time making spending pledges based on the idea that we can fund everything by being less generous to Johnny Foreigner.

It is populist stuff. But rather like the Lib Dems pledge of a few years ago to put 1p on the basic rate of tax which they then wheeled out insisting that it would pay for whatever whacko scheme they wanted to promise to win votes that day, it is just poppycock. If the UK were to scrap foreign aid tomorrow our deficit this year would still be £89 billion, there would be no money freed up for Somerset just more deficit spending.

That is the retort to UKIP. But Tory minister Eric Pickles is obviously too thick or too lazy to go down that route. Instead he suggested that foreign aid helps change behaviour so as to stop global warming which causes flooding in Somerset.  Jeepers, where do you start?

1. There is no evidence whatsoever that foreign aid cash makes more than a trivial difference to man-made carbon emissions. If you want to spend £11 billion a year reducing carbon emissions you would tackle big producers i.e. the West and China.

2, There is no evidence that carbon emissions have caused global warming or even climate change. All the computer models claiming to show this have been shown to be bodged and to have predicted global climate patters of the past 15 years absolutely incorrectly. They said temperatures would go up, they have in fact gone down since 1997.

3. Massive Atlantic storms and heavy rain have occurred in England before the 20th century when global warming/climate change is claimed to have happened. It is called the weather Mr Pickles and it just happens.

Such is the level of political debate in this country that Mr Farage blows his usual wolf whistles and then talks obvious bollocks but in such a populist tone, that someone has to respond. But lardbucket Eric Pickles can only respond by talking even more bollocks.



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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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