The morass of flooding politics have claimed a fair few scalps over the years. Those with long memories will recall the struggles of former Culture Secretary Chris Smith, whose lacklustre tenure as chair of the Environment Agency was ended ignominiously back in 2014 after flooding in Devon, Cornwall and the Somerset Levels.
Now Labour is having to grapple once more with this issue, with a number of constituencies affected by Sunday’s floods being held by the party’s leading lights. Stella Creasy has been vocal in Walthamstow while Sam Tarry cited the floods as his reason to (belatedly) drop out of the online launch of the controversial Redbridge Palestinian Solidarity Campaign last night.
Sir Keir Starmer has meanwhile used the occasion to reaffirm to his local newspaper the Camden New Journal that his party remains committed to taking water back into ‘common ownership’ i.e. nationalising Thames Water and other companies – a controversial move estimated to cost more than £14 billion which has been criticised by some Labour MPs.
However Mr S understands that is not the end of Labour’s troubles with water. For Sunday night’s floods have forced Starm troopers in the Leader of the Opposition’s office in Parliament to decamp from the Bates motel surroundings of Norman Shaw South, where the basement is flooded, to party HQ on Victoria Street.
Southside has of course traditionally been a Blairite bastion, whose staff, during the Corbyn years, performed a role akin to that of the Japanese warriors who held out for 30 years after World War Two had concluded. Now though, the close proximity of Starmer to Labour General Secretary David Evans means such tensions are (largely) a thing of the past – with Team Rayner v Team Starmer filling the role of LOTO v Southside.
Normally then such a (temporary) move would pass by without controversy – another example of a joined up government in waiting, perhaps. However, given the controversy over Labour’s perilous finances, tensions are rife, with the party being forced to cut staff and questions looming as to which comrades will be willing to take voluntary redundancy rather than face a purge.
One source familiar with discussions likened it to the popular reality television show Love Island, with party apparatchiks now forced to compare notes as to who has permanent contracts or not as they nervously await their fates. ‘Après moi, le déluge,’ indeed.
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