Sunday, 9 January 2011

Brown skating on thin black ice?

Probably not - the SNP Government's newish transport minister seems unlikely to go the same way as the hapless Stewart Stevenson, since synthetic political outrage is surely unrepeatable over such a short timescale, and in any case Holyrood is still effectively on holiday, so it wouldn't do for a political crisis to get in the way of an extended break and next week's meander back to work.

Thus although the M8 was once again rendered impassable by black ice last week and snow closed Edinburgh Airport yesterday, the predictable kneejerk criticism of Keith Brown seems unlikely to come to much, since surely the realisation is by now that things wouldn't have been a whole lot different who had been given the brief or which party had been in power at Holyrood.

On the other hand, all this perhaps underlines the rather hubristic nature of Mr Brown's appointment, and in particular his ridiculous and grandstanding decision to spend the night at the coalface of Transport Scotland's "resilience centre" soon after taking the reins, and even after the latest M8 closure being photographed shovel-in-hand at Leith docks on delivery of a shipment of salt.

Of course, gimmicks like those often convey the impression that the politicians are having a laugh at our expense. An inch or so of sleety snow late on Friday froze to ice in Dundee yesterday, turning many of the roads and pavements into virtual skating rinks, even when some still haven't been properly cleared from the big dump of snow several weeks ago. And a couple of inches of fresh snow fell on the city last night, with little sign of gritting even in the city centre, and seeing many vehicles unable to make it up a busy road near to the Planet Politics nerve centre, apparently for most of the night.

And on a slightly different tack, driving last night saw the usual numpties who think slow-moving traffic on dangerous roads provides the perfect opportunity to tailgate and intimidate other drivers. Of course, these people do this with impunity at the best of times - and complacent politicians and police expect us to keep our heads down regarding such matters so as not to spoil the message of plummeting crime figures - but the inclement weather merely underlines what a tiresome and dangerous experience these people can make the task of simply driving from A to B while minding your own business.

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