Ben - 9's Waterways

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Don't Jump On The Miliband Waggon!

I never quite know who reads my ramblings but I know that people do. I wonder whether any of those readers are members of the Labour Party or know someone who is? Labour Party members will be having a chance shortly to choose a new leader who might one day become Prime Minister.

I wouldn't normally consider this a topic worth having a rant about, except that it would seem that the current front runner is David Miliband, and history shows that he is no friend of the waterways.

Cast your minds back to 2006 and the series of IWA/Save Our Waterways demonstrations around the country's waterways. Do you remember what that was all about?

DEFRA, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural affairs, got itself into massive trouble with the European Union. DEFRA had failed to meet its obligations to make payments to farmers under the EU's agricultural policy and incurred a huge "fine" - really a withdrawal of some of the grants DEFRA would have received from Europe. This led to a massive shortfall in DEFRA's budget.

Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor, could have made some extra cash available from contingency funds to help bail DEFRA out if they had needed it. However, the Minister in charge of DEFRA, keen to impress Mr Brown, insisted that he could cover the shortfall by making cutbacks elsewhere in his Department. Of course, the farmers had to receive their payments to keep the EU off DEFRA's back, so the burden of the cutbacks fell to the various quangos and other organisations that depended on DEFRA for their funding.

Those, of course, included British Waterways and the Environment Agency.

The cutbacks to BW's funding came part way through the financial year, with money clawed back that had already been promised, and BW's funding was reduced again in the years that followed.

Can you imagine how much better a state the waterways would be in today if funding had continued at 2005 levels?

And who was this Minister of State in charge of DEFRA who was so keen to show the Chancellor what a good boy he was and who, by a complete coincidence, was then appointed to the prestigious role of Foreign Secretary when Mr Brown became Prime Minister? Why - none other than David Miliband, who is now seeking to lead the party.

So - anyone who will have a say in that leadership election, or who is in a position to influence the opinion of anyone who has a vote... just ask yourself "What has David Miliband ever done for Britain's waterways?"


1 comment:

  1. Well said Ben, except I would expand the question to 'What has Miliband_D ever done for the inland waterways' as it wasn't only British Waterways navigations that were affected.

    His record is littered with other examples of poor judgment, his disastrous trip as Foreign Secretary to India in Jan 2009 and one could argue that had he cost Labour the election because he chickened out when there was move to replace Brown as leader.

    This country needs someone less slick and duplicitous for leader of the opposition.


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