After Years of Denying Climate Change, the Daily Mail Uses Britain's Terrible Flooding to Attack ... Foreign Aid

The World
How It Works
Feb. 14 2014 5:40 PM

The Daily Mail Changes the Subject

469369559-prince-william-duke-of-cambridge-catches-a-sandbag
A royal mess.

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Almost 6,000 homes have been flooded already in Britain’s wettest January in at least 250 years, and more damage is likely on the way with another storm blowing in this weekend.

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

Amid criticism of David Cameron’s government for what some see as a sluggish and inadequate response to the storm, a second debate has opened up over an idea floated by Nigel Farageleader of the U.K. Independence Partyand championed by the Daily Mail, to raid the country’s foreign aid budget to pay for flood relief.

Advertisement

Foreign aid is always an easy populist target in any country, and Farage and the Mail have picked a politically smart time to score some points. But for one thing it’s not really clear that a lack of available funds was the reason for the authorities’ slow response to the flooding.

British aid, in conjunction with that of other countries, has contributed to a number of worthy goals, including giving millions of people access to clean drinking water and vaccines for diseases like polio. As Memphis Barker of the Independent argues, gutting Britain’s foreign aid program merely because of a domestic disaster is a bad idea, “because suffering in Somerset is mild compared to that in Bangladesh. Because there’s already plenty of money in and political attention on these floods. And because although Britain’s attempts to reduce poverty aren’t perfect, we owe the world more than a turned back.”

Moreover, there’s the fact that millions of pounds of Britain’s aid budget is actually spent within the country. There are also other resources Britain has yet to tap, including an EU Solidarity Fund that it has paid into and countries including Portugal, Greece, and even GermanyEurope’s wealthiest countryhave used during natural disasters. Even FarageBritain’s leading euroskepticsupports Britain using the funds, pointing out, “It's our money anyway."

As for the Mail, given the quantity of nonsense it has promoted in an effort to discredit the idea of climate change over the years, it’s not hard to see this as a bid to change the subject now that a good portion of the country is underwater.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 9:19 PM The Phone Call Is Twenty Minutes of Pitch-Perfect, Wrenching Cinema
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.