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Weather, finances and politics dominate

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

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Putting up the new year's calendars around the house and office then remembering it is now 2013 and not 2012 is not so much like starting a new chapter in life but a whole new book.

We've had ten days to get used to the idea but we can't ever have any notion of the plot of that book nor how many pages we are going to get to turn.

However, there are three subjects we can be absolutely certain will be there all too prominently: the weather, the state of our personal/national /international finances, and politics.

Apart from inevitable and constant grumbling – probably swearing as well – about the climactic chaos we have been suffering, there is absolutely nothing we can do about the first, and precious little about the second either.

As for the third topic, all the signs are that since it is actually linked closely to the second, we are all in for a horribly gory time, bombarded non-stop by wailing and gnashing of teeth from Left, Right and Centre, and with no place for us to escape.

This inevitably stems, of course, from the near-bust state of the British economy for which everyone blames everyone else for mismanagement over the years.

Now the Coalition Government's efforts to get financial matters on an even keel are provoking squeals of anguish from all sides. A rebellion is threatened from the Right, with more than 120 rural councils – ones like Somerset, Mendip and Sedgemoor, that is – complaining bitterly that the latest round of Westminster-ordered cuts will "crucify" countryside communities.

They are threatening that if there isn't an immediate u-turn (which, let's face it, would be only the latest in a long line of similar changes of direction in the face of fierce opposition) they will consider legal action in a bid to halt the spending settlement for this year which, they claim, is biased heavily towards the big cities.

Hmm, that's an interesting argument since the leaders of three big Labour-controlled cities up North reckon they are being unfairly penalised relative to we softies here in the South.

"Rising crime, increasing community tension and more problems on our streets will contribute to the break-up of civil society if we do not turn back," they said in a letter to a national paper.

"The unfairness of the Government's cuts is in danger of creating a deeply divided nation."

The response from Eric Pickles's Department for Communities and Local Government was virtually the same to both sets of council leaders. Basically it was: tough.

Everyone needs to do some belt-tightening, so there.

As for the Lib Dems, a memo from the party's headquarters to MPs, peers and activists which was leaked to the BBC had no doubt about the way ahead: attack everyone else as only we can build a strong economy and fairer society.

The senior strategist behind those words had no doubt that the Conservatives – their partners in the coalition – could not be trusted as they only wanted to "look after the super-rich while ignoring the needs of normal people."

The memo also provided Lib Dems with ammunition to fire at Labour leaders over their handling of the economy and accusing them of caring more about union barons, media bosses and bankers "than they did about ordinary, working people."

So you pays yer money and takes yer choice.

Despite the seemingly incessant rain, I do not think I have ever seen so many people out and about walking and cycling in the Mendip Hills as there were over the Christmas and new year holidays.

That can't be bad... except for the fact that, quite clearly, booted human feet do just as much to turn saturated land into a quagmire as those of cattle, sheep and horses.

Still, the activity should at least have made everyone that bit fitter and perhaps even a little slimmer after all those seasonal celebrations.

Ian Tabrett

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