AFTER the storm comes the blizzard of recriminations.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Conservative MP for Berwick who is the International Trade Secretary, has been criticised for flying to America, on Government business, when some of her constituents are still without power. This is a little silly, as Mrs Trevelyan can hardly be expected to shimmy up a pole, and the Government, belatedly, has begun to focus on the problem with the Prime Minister even phoning Northern Powergrid yesterday to check on preparations for Barra.

The grid’s engineers must feel they’ve each been personally hit by the storm as they’ve worked hard in very trying conditions to reconnect people while their company has been criticised.

But this is because the company’s communications have let them down.

Another example of this is the revelation that it could be three months, and not the accepted 10 days, before people receive the compensation to which they are entitled. If a consumer told their electricity supplier to go wait a few months before they paid their bill was paid, they’d expect to be rapidly disconnected, so it must work the other way: the company cannot arbitrarily delay payments just because it is busy reconnecting people. Just as it is silly to expect Mrs Trevelyan to shimmy up a pole, so it is silly to expect an engineer to put down a chainsaw and start issuing compensation.

The company must have plans in place, and staff available, to fulfil its obligations – and the Government should be ensuring that it does.