The Third Leader: Watered down

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The Independent Online

There are times when it is all too easy to gain the impression that this country is not being run very well. One thinks of doubled spending on the NHS running in tandem with cuts to jobs and services; of future pensioners facing penury; of bursting prisons and pipes; and of plans to concentrate population growth in a leaky, drought-prone area currently struggling to interpret water restrictions that allow you to use your hose to clean your patio but not your car and definitely not to water your plants.

Clearly, at such a moment, it is the duty of every citizen to pitch in and lend a hand. So, a few helpful suggestions re water. First, consistent with overall government policy, let's go for a complete ban on hosepipes.

Some enterprising pro-activity will combat the inevitable protests: water company directors in the Big Brother house, sharing a bucket, would strike a popular note, for example.

I see, too, that the encouragement of grassing on midnight hosers is running into difficulty, being for some reason thought not quite British. Fortunately, we now have available the 4,000 undercover agents of the new national crime agency, whose strategic priorities are directed by the Home Secretary.

And where are the water-saving suggestions that have distinguished earlier crises - bath-sharing, feet in the washing-up water, back of the neck every other day, etc? Time for a Drought Czar of the type whose appointment has previously and instantly precipitated, well, precipitation.

Another bold thought: who knows most about economising on water? Exactly: 14-year-old boys. And, as it happens, I have one at home on holiday, complaining of nothing to do.

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