Thursday, 9 December 2010

FMQs 9 December 2010

Today's FMQs discussed the weather in centimetres.  (Since when did Scots move from feet and inches to centimetres?)  The sudden heavy downfall of snow over the central belt (Edinburgh-Glasgow area) on Monday morning seems to have annoyed the unionists.

All three opposition party leaders were itching to pin blame on Stewart Stevenson the Transport Minister, but the First Minister would have none of it.  He staunchly supported Mr Stevenson's actions, although he admitted communications hadn't been perfect.  I don't believe Mr Stevenson's scalp will be adorning the top of the Holyrood Palace gates this week, but would say his coat is on a shoogly nail.  He has an unfortunate demeanor which conveys a surplus of arrogance that doesn't help him in public situations.

Sitting here surrounded by 12 inches of snow, with the temperature, for the first time for a fortnight, a balmy one degree today, I'm bemused by all the fuss.  Nobody made a noise here when nearly two weeks ago we had two days of continual snowfall.  Maybe it's because in rural areas we consider travelling more seriously, who knows.

There were slow and wrong decisions on Monday in the central belt.  Everyone headed for the motorways thinking they would be clear, but appeared to forget motorways are more exposed to the elements than many other roads.  Many drivers were not prepared for bad weather situations.  How often are drivers advised to put a shovel, blanket, warm footwear in their cars over winter and ensure they have a small supply of food and drink in case of emergencies?

Schools opened then, within a couple of hours, closed.  Parents had to battle back from work or home to collect their little darlings after delivering them to the education authorities.  Why schools couldn't have continued normally defeats me.  The children will all have been dressed for cold weather.  The schools would have been warm.  Why discontinue lessons?

I'm in agreement with Iain MacWhirter, although I do think we should be obliged to use winter tyres (which can be used all year round in our climate).

Alex Salmond asked the opposition parties to bring forth positive resolutions.  Sorry to tell you Alex but they don't have any.  One important fact that the First Minister did disclose is that the government are in talks with the road hauliers about the use of snow/winter tyres on lorries.  It appears jack-knifed articulated vehicles were a major cause of the congestion on the M8.  So were the hundreds of abandoned cars which prevented the roads being ploughed.  It would be unfair if the hauliers had the expense of winter tyres thrust upon them through legislation and yet the motorist had no such responsibility.

Backbencher questions:

Christina McKelvie asked the FM what impact a decision to lift the cap on tuition fees at English universities would have on Scottish education.  Lewis MacDonald asked, in the light of the decision to close the Sustainable Development Commission in Scotland, where will the Scottish Government seek independent advice from on energy use in the future and Bill Aitken wanted to know what discussions the Scottish Government has had with the Scottish Prison Service regarding additional entertainment for prisoners over the festive period.

The FM's answers can be found in the video.


cynicalHighlander said...

Scotland must be the only country in the world where the public service broadcaster sets the political agenda, time to emigrate to Burma.

First Ministers Questions - A Newsnet Scotland Special

Dubbieside said...


The last time we had heavy snow Jack Mc Connell can round and cleared my drive of 12 ins of snow.

He asked me if I was happy with his work, and would I phone Newsnicht and tell them how wonderful he was in this emergency if the BBC should ask him to apologize for it snowing.

I of course was happy to do so as everything worked so well under Labour, and my council tax never went up, the schools were brilliant, and best of all we never needed extra police on the streets because Labour were so good at law and order.

voterinscotland said...

Dubbieside is needing to see a doctor for these delusions - it never snowed under Labour :)

we in Dundee seem to have coped (and my goodness we have had heeps of snow )and appeared stoical during the past 2 weeks.

JRB said...

Clueless; crass; inaccurate; inadequate; inappropriate; ineffective; inefficient; inept; naïve; useless; wanting

Any, or all of the above, could, and perhaps should, be used to describe our Transport Minister.

On Wednesday his Holyrood performance, for that is all it was, can only be described as woeful.

Those members of our ruling parliamentary party who were present at his ‘ministerial statement’ must have been cringing with embarrassment as he tried in vain to deflect the blame for his own ministerial, and his department’s, shortcomings on to others.

Stewart Stevenson’s inability to act as an efficient and effective Transport Minister so very nearly brought the entire country to a grinding and frozen halt.

For Mr Salmond, normally so astute, to try and defend the indefensible has shown a surprising lack of public and political awareness.

Time for Mr Salmond to play the role of Alan Sugar - you are the Transport Minister - you are responsible – you failed - you’re fired!

subrosa said...

I see Newsnet have pinched my video idea CH. Quite a compliment.

subrosa said...

Funny you should say that Dubbie. Jack told me his shovel was burst and couldn't do mine.

It's all a nonsense and I'm fed up hearing about it. Where's folks common sense? Are they all brainwashed by the global warming bunch?

subrosa said...

John, I didn't see the performance on Wednesday but I did see the one on Newnicht. It was very poor.

According to Iain MacWhirter, SS was Alex's chauffeur for a time. He popped out of the woodwork I know, on the selection circuit back in the 90s.

Strathturret said...

Stewart Stevenson was a senior IT manager with Bank of Scotland. I'd say he is a very clever and capable fellow.

I set out for Edinburgh on Monday based on weather advice with a shovel in my boot and lots of weight over my rear wheels. Arrived at my destination 6 hours later.

I would say weather was much worse than was forecasted.

Clarinda said...

With a thaw up here producing potential floods - we will no doubt have Mr Fudd demanding at next weeks FMQs why Mr Stevenson wasn't handing out wellies and manning the oars.
Agreed, Mr Stevenson is not particularly endowed with oratory elan, but accusers on the Labour side give crass and cack-handed opportunism a bad name.
Oh for some decent Opposition debate, instead of Fuddy-One-Note avoidng anything of substance that Mr Salmond could take advantage of in showing the real vacuity of Labour 'thinking'.

subrosa said...

Strathturret, I have no doubt Stewart Stevenson is very capable. Unfortunately his manner can seem abrasive at times.

Maybe he could modernise the SNP website. He's got the skills. Nobody else seems interested. Why they don't consider redesigning it in a modern context beats me. I just can't understand why they can't get a grip of the influence the internet has with such things.

I heard Alex mentioning as well as lorries having to use winter tyres, he's considering every should do so. Great idea I think they we'd have far fewer abandoned cars and roads would be cleared more speedily.

subrosa said...

I'm quite sure SS is secure in his job now Clarinda although he can't mess up next time.

We really need winter tyres on all vehicles. They can be used all year round and if Eck makes that law, then surely tyre manufacturers will come up with a good deal for all of us.

Strathturret said...

Winter tyres were very popular in the 60s. They died out of use because winters became milder. They just were not worth it for several days use. They also wear out faster and give poorer grip in wet conditions.

For my money if you have fwd you don't need them and if you have rwd you're better with extra weight in the boot. More important is good tread depth.

subrosa said...

Winter tyres are very different from the snow tyres we used to have in the 60s Strathurret. Nowadays you can run on winter tyres all year round and I believe they don't wear any faster than 'normal' tyres.

I'm looking into this with my local tyre place, but after Alex Salmond saying today he may consider we all should have winter tyres and get a 'deal' for the massive bulk buy, I just may hold off.

Especially if I get a good bit off my insurance as well I'd be delighted.

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