Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, interviewed this morning on the Today programme about water shortages, used a phrase new to me: 'I before E', meaning Infrastructure before Expansion. A bit of googling reveals that this neat coinage dates from at least 2003, but it is surprising to hear it used approvingly by a cabinet minister, since it seems to imply more planning than is happening now, and not at a local level ('regions' and 'regional' are words banned in Government now, so the hunt must be on for a new term - how about 'arch-counties', which has a nice Anglo-Saxon, Little-England-friendly ring to it?).
In fact, the Tories have over the years been better than Labour at getting on with big infrastructure projects, at least as far as transport is concerned. They need to rediscover that bit of their heritage, particularly as the debate over High Speed 2 reveals all the predictable political tensions, made more problematic by the tenets of localism ('local high speed trains for local people'). And while they are sorting out the water and the trains, how about some new parks for new housing too?