On the wireless we hear tales of the snows and the chaos of 12 months ago, the rumpus that brought the resignation of the Transport Minister for what, it seems to me, was primarily the failure of media to tell the world with any degree of accuracy of the weather that was then to afflict us. It is repeated now as the snow has returned and the new Transport Minister is quizzed incessantly. In refreshing those reports of last year the BBC are conveniently excluding their weather bulletins. But this time round those bulletins have been true and reliable; the snow fell exactly when and in the precise amounts predicted. Yet still we have phone-ins from drivers telling how it took them 40 minutes to travel a mile, or whatever; schools are closed and events cancelled. Locally we have the trials of the school bus, the routes being outwith the gritting runs meaning that urchins far and wide are supposed to walk on untreated, unlit roads without footpaths to the nearest the bus can reach, or parents take to to the roads and add more traffic to the chaos. The next stage is the road safety officer, for children are not supposed to have to walk where pavements do not exist, the roads department care not and pass the buck to the education department whose next responsibility is apparently to arrange for home schooling. Just send the gritters round, please. Local farmers are doing their bit with ploughs, whilst grit bins, wheelbarrows and shovels are deployed on foot. In five months the councillors are up for election……….
Moving seamlessly into politics the broadcasters seem to be catching on slowly to the changing mood of the nation. The spur for this has been the publication of the annual Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, and the results are quite enlightening. The state-funded broadcaster of course puts the usual spin on it, head in the sand. These days I am warming to the latest from STV, Scotland Tonight, which follows News at Ten. Last night the survey was the topic for debate and a platform was given to members of both SNP and Labour. But the star performer was Pat Kane, once half of Hue & Cry and now a columnist and blogger of growing repute. The mother of Pat’s children is one of our newest MSPs and sadly has had little time in the last six months to add to her own impressive blog. Pat delved into the morass of statistics coming out of the survey, his finger very firmly on the pulse, the changing mood of the nation captured. The BBC continue to be in denial, but considering the numerous links between staff members, reporters and the Labour Party it is little wonder that they continue in their role as Labour’s media arm, intent on preserving their source of license fees from Old Scotia. A review of the media reaction to the survey can be found here.
Meanwhile, after Scotland Tonight I hopped over to hear what the Beeb were saying on Newsnight Scotland. No survey comment, just an in depth debate with the three candidates seeking to succeed the hapless and depressingly negative Iain Grey as the next leader of the Labour group in the Scottish parliament. Apparently now it is to be a head of Team Scotland, responsible for members in Holyrood and Westminster alike. We even have a Westminster candidate in the form of Tom Harris, also a prolific blogger, no link provided for it leaves a nasty taste and not one I am prepared to suffer in the interest of balance. If the BBC can overlook balance and impartiality……….Interestingly we had the two MSP candidates trying desperately to distance themselves from the negativity and oppositionism that saw them obliterated in May. Ken Macintosh even mentioned the ‘tribal hatred’ as being a cause for their demise. Quick to catch on these politicians, perhaps they had been reading the survey, or listening to Pat Kane, before they came on air.
The Labour leadership election though is a flawed process. Yes the members get their say, but so too do the parliamentarians, and then the unions pitch in with their block votes. The electoral college has three distinct strands to try and find a leader, one that will unite the party and dictate policy for both London and Edinburgh. Given that last week we saw MSPs on strike while MPs debated and voted, it seems that unilateral policy is simply a rumour put out to the press and survey respondents. Young Miliband will tell his colleagues in Westminster exactly how to vote, probably on English only issues not affecting the constiuents of said members, while in Scotland, the vote will continue to be in opposition to the SNP Government, regardless of the interests of the consituents.
The local council elections are only five months away. Glasgow has been under Labour rule for almost 70 years, rule that keeps poverty on the doorstep, has mortality rates among the worst in Europe. Methinks that finally there is a move away from voting in the manner of fathers and grandfathers, to voting in the interests of children and grandchildren, and continuing the progress of last May into a local level.
Now I know that Labour took control in Glasgow in 1933, for it was one of the questions that saw us gather insufficient points in the quiz at the weekend. It was though a proverbial in a brewery, and the local ales went down well, failing though to add moisture to the shortbread which had its revenge. But what made the night was the generosity and good nature of a certain Queen of Hearts, on voluntary taxi duty and desperate to have a few hours freedom from her Knave and assorted jesters. It’s the community spirit that does it, and more of that this weekend as the reindeer come to town, with Santa. The town will come out in throngs, and the Farmers’ Market adds weight too, as local business battle against supermarkets and out of town retail parks. Now if the snow remains and the roads are closed and we can’t get to the motorways; and if the Queen of Hearts is extending favours……….
Time now though to get out the snow shovel. The air is still and quiet, the owl back to his roost, and The Urchins need to be walked along those dangerous roads.