The news cycle has moved on. The media roadshow has all but left town. But for many people of the Somerset levels, the distress and upset caused by the flooding continues. While the impact of the stagnant floodwater lapping around their communities and homes is all too real, for most people outside the area it is now almost a distant memory.
It’s with that in mind that Nigel Farage dropped into Burrowbridge on Thursday – for a pint naturally – and even made a reference to EU directives. But the event, shoe-horned in to fit around various appointments and travel plans ahead of the UKIP spring conference, passed by virtually unnoticed and unremarked, and with it went Farage’s promise on Twitter of a press conference addressing the EU dimension to the flooding.
On the comment threads of this blog, my urgent calls for UKIP to get into this issue immediately and underline the EU role in it all, was dismissed by some for whom any criticism of the party or the leader is an outrage that requires immediate condemnation. There was apparently a party ‘strategy’ in place to deal with this that we knew nothing about and which, surprise surprise, is yet to reveal itself weeks later. Also despite Lisa Duffy’s train wreck comments on BBC Any Questions recently, there has been no correction from UKIP of her factual error about EU responsibility for the extent of the floods. Forget not being in the game, they haven’t even turned up at the venue!
Then on the failure to make the most of the media and PR opportunities available, I was told I knew nothing about these things, despite working in the profession for the last 14 years and having worked on political campaigns. Now I don’t know everything but I do know that so far the use of the media, to make the point that EU membership and governance has played a major part in the ruination of the lives of people on the levels, has been non existant. ‘Nige knows best’ was the subtext, but the outcome has been lamentable. UKIP’s approach on matters of susbtance is always reactive, if it comes at all, and all too frequently the message misses the point. The ‘Trust in Nige’ narrative used by the more tunnel visioned party members consistently puts us into a holding patten awaiting pronouncements from the great sage that then fail to materialise, then then adopt the ‘nothing to see here’ approach and move on to something else completely leaving the issue unresolved.
It is not just one open goal missed (again) but several.
The open goal of evident and explicit EU directives central to the actions of the Environment Agency regarding the flooding, some of which we referenced here, has been missed. But also the open goal concerning the EU’s co-funding of projects with the RSPB and WWF to demonstrate techniques to evaluate and plan floodplain ‘restoration’ (aka, how to flood areas such as the levels).
Then in the last day another open goal has been presented that we can see clearly will be similarly ignored, that of the squandering of tens of millions of Euros of taxpayers’ money by the EU, to fund the activities of the very environmental groups who want to flood more areas in similar fashion, here and overseas. Everywhere we delve into reports and documents on this matter we see not just the all-too-active dead hand of the EU, but unelected and unaccountable long beak of the RSPB alongside the grubby panda’s pawprints of the WWF, which are liberally plastered over everything.
These supposed charities are in fact lavishly funded extensions of government in the EU. They play a hugely significant and anti-democratic role in the formulation and delivery of policy and implementation of laws. This EU governance structure should concern and anger people forced to live with the consequences of RSPB and WWF environmental desires being put into effect.
Many people who want something to justify leaving the EU would draw the line at being part of a union that not only permits this but actively encourages it and uses our money to ensure it happens. But from UKIP we hear not one word about this. What is it going to take to make them up their game and get these messages across? Clearly the blogs will have to continue researching where the dots connect and publishing the details in the hope at least some peopleget the message.
If these facts, combined with a financial hit in the shape of grants totalling over €77 million given by the EU to just the WWF alone – one of the groups who pushed for the flooding of the levels – isn’t a subject for an EUsceptic party to bring to wider public attention, then what is? This is not a blogger hoping UKIP will fail, this is a blogger frustrated that the party is failing and letting down everyone who wants to be free of this EU-driven eco lunacy.