Saturday, 11 December 2010

Good Idea Mr Salmond

The opposition parties in the Scottish government are still gunning for Stewart Stevenson, the Transport Minister, because he didn't attend Thursday's sub-Cabinet committee meeting on Scottish Government Resilience (SGOR) called to deal with problems caused by the current thaw and the freeze expected towards the end of next week.

Iain Gray, the Labour leader, said: "It is quite clear that Stewart Stevenson has been sidelined since last Tuesday. Scotland has lost confidence in him and it would appear that his colleagues have as well.

The Tory leader Annabel Goldie said: "On Thursday he sat in the chamber during a debate when he should have been at his desk sorting out the travel chaos. And now we learn that today he wasn't at the resilience committee.

Fairly weak comments from Labour and the Tories but will Mr Stevenson's future be affected?  Who can tell.  But I was pleased to note that Brig George Lowder, the Commander of the Army in Scotland was one of those present at the meeting. Forward planning is one of the strengths of the military and they are trained to plan and act with immediacy.

It also pleased me to hear Alex Salmond say last night that, as well as discussing the use of winter tyres for HGV owners, he was investigating their use for all road users.  Presently he is in talks with motor insurance companies and tyre manufacturers who, he said, may be able to offer Scots a 'good deal' because of the initial high demand which would occur if legislation to this effect was passed.

Before people say they can't afford two sets of tyres, winter tyres can be used here all year round with the wear and tear being no worse than that of standard tyres. Read the comments here from those who already use them.  In order to save money I would only use winter tyres from November to March then change back to standard tyres and repeat that until my standard tyres needed replaced.  Only then would I start to use winter tyres all year round.

Certainly I'm all for legislation being passed, because it would be unfair to legislate only heavy goods vehicles while smaller vehicles are just as likely to block roads in bad weather.  It was the volume of abandoned cars which held up the clearing of the M8 on Monday.

A footnote.  Yesterday I was talking to someone who took a friend to Edinburgh airport on Wednesday.  They said the approach road was in a disgusting state of hard-packed rutted ice and vehicles were all over the place.  Furthermore, then said if they hadn't been driving a 4 x 4 then would have turned back.  Maybe Mr Stevenson should have a word with BAA.



Richard T said...

There's not much support for this arrogant jack in office in the northern isles. His lying over the RET for ferries and his rare combination of arrogance and incompetence this spring in diverting life line ferries to Norway to pick up stranded tourists after flights had resumed earned him no friends here. Awa wi him to the obscurity he richly deserves as Eck's driver.

JRB said...

Whilst, no doubt, Mr Stevenson has many redeeming characteristics, and much expertise in certain fields, his strengths certainly do not lie in the realms of transport. He is the wrong man, in the wrong job, at the wrong time.

And with your permission SR I will re-post an earlier comment -

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!

Anonymous said...

I use them all year round even in S Europe

In winter I am not allowed to transit Germany without them.

subrosa said...

Morning Richard. Yes, he doesn't have the best attitude does he. I'd forgotten about the RET.

I'm sure there are others more competent to do the Transport job. It surprised me he got it in the first place.

subrosa said...

John, I'm coming round to your opinion, having read more about him this morning.

Who would succeed him? One of the younger ones may be effective.

subrosa said...

Or Switzerland or Scandanavian countries Bugger.

Time it happened here, especially now that the new technology of winter tyres allows them to be used all year round.

Key bored warrior. said...

Much has been said and written about Stewart Stevenson, I will not add to it. What I have never seen yet from anyone in particular the odious opportunistic cheap shots in opposition in Holyrood, is what exactly is it that Stewart Stevenson should have done about the bad spell of weather that he did not? Never mind what he said or how he comes over on the telly. WHAT SHOULD HE HAVE DONE?

If the BBC weather forecast was so wonderful and accurate, why then did people not pay attention and keep in doors and of the roads. I cancelled a journey at 0900 on the Monday because I looked out the window and could see that the weather was worse than I expected, even having looked at the forecast the night before. I then went online to the Met office site and realised we were in for a big fall. I live in S Lanarkshire.

Several people I know also changed their plans. Listening to BBC Scotland and watching their News bulletins it was so obvious that they were cranking up the anti and were interested in one thing only, blaming the SNP and in particular Stevenson. I posted on my blog to that effect. The mentality in the BBC now is simple, throw all the muck they can rake up at the SNP and by next May some of it will surely have stuck.

My instinct tells me that this is starting to blow back on them and especially the likes of Gray, Goldie and Scott, who appear increasingly desperate as the weeks roll on. Gray in particular looks and sounds like a pathetic wee bitter parish councillor. Charlie Gordons written down statement to Parliament was toe curling embarrassing pub rhetoric, the kind that has no place in our parliament a place they are seeking to undermine. They are undermining them selves.

There are many examples from past winters of motorists being stranded in the UK and Motorways closed, as a onetime truck and coach driver I can vouch for that personally. I can also vouch for the sheer panic and selfish ignorance that some drivers become infected with when the flakes start to fall. It is ignorant drivers that generally close these roads not the weather.

The question is unanswered. What should have been done that was not?

PS, is the most accurate weather predictor in the UK with an 80% strike record. He says that this year the winter will be the coldest for 100 years and that we can expect this through to March.

Clarinda said...

Fully agree with KBW.
I accept - as I replied to an earlier Subrosa blog this week - Mr Stevenson lacks some political acumen and presentation skill (who's perfect?) but we are being covertly diverted from the real problem at Holyrood which is the paucity of intelligent debate and challenge from the OPPOSITION!
Don't let the weight of manipulated MSM bias stir up self-defeating rhetoric against the longer term goals of self-determination - it's just the type of internal squabble, so close to an election, the unionists dream.
Why don't we have our sights fixed on the suspect irony of Wendy Alexander chairing the committee on the Scotland Bill instead of the freakish Snowgate, which is melting anyway, but fiddling the books remains a constant?

Dubbieside said...

Key bored warrior.

I think your post says it all, what would any other party have done differently? Answer nothing.

All this guff about SS highlights what is wrong with Scottish politics at present, its all about presentation and spin, he did not come over well when asked on TV to apologize because it was snowing, shock horror.

So some clown stands up and criticizes but can only girn as he has no clue and no solution, and that is seen as responsible, you could not make it up.

So Richard T and JRB just what should have been done with the information and resources available to SS at the time? What is the bit of magic that everyone has missed? because once you tell us I am sure that successive Scottish governments, no matter which political persuasion, will use them to ensure that never again will any car or lorry be stuck on a Scottish road. Remember if Gray gets into power he will have to sack his transport minister if one road is blocked, he pledged that at FMQ on Thursday.

subrosa said...

What could he have done KBW? Ensured that the relevant services were operating together, although Alex Salmond insists they were, but that's certainly an area which could be tightened up. Leaving people sitting in cars for hours without contact with any services isn't good enough in this day and age. I would have been scared. The police need to look at their handling of it.

They also need to look at their traffic section after this. Allowing more and more traffic to enter the motorway system when it was already chock-a-block was very poor.

As you say the opposition are milking this but that's what opposition's do I suppose.

I'd agree with you it's bad drivers who cause most of the problems and that's why I think legislation for winter tyres ought to be rushed through parliament. At least we may have fewer stupid drivers if they can get more of a grip.

Another thing the government could do is stop schools closing for no real reason. Part of the problem was the addition traffic of parents returning to pick up their children mid-morning. Why couldn't they stay in school until the usual time?

Thanks for the link. Good one it is.

subrosa said...

Well said Clarinda. Of course the media will batter the weather subject until it is not only dead but done to death.

I've yet to read about Wendy. Oh dearie me, it gets worse doesn't it.

Is there internal squabbling? I haven't noticed it. My only comment about SS was his performance on Newsnicht. It really was poor IMO. A better performance would have killed the criticism stone dead.

Will find out about the Scotland Bill later. Off outside to enjoy walking on soil/concrete/asphalt for the first time for 2 weeks.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Bloody hell, the weather caught everyone out.

On the same day Manchester was gridlocked - no sign of snow, just black ice.

On the news we were given a taste of Stevenson's apology, simply to maintain the bias towards the incapable Scots - The Manchester gridlock was left to the local version.

Why add weight to this bias?

Strathturret said...

Sorry winter tyres is not the solution. Travelled about this week perfectly well in rwd car with useless wide summer tyres but with 3 brieze blocks in boot to provide enough weight for adequate traction.

If we're talking about studded tyres or chains then its a different argument but they are only any use if we have permanent snow or ice.

RMcGeddon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Mxyzptlk said...


and to top it all he is some ugly bloke

although he does bear a striking resemblance to Father jack

K said...

With respect I don't think people outside the central belt necessarily "get" what happened on Monday, particularly in Glasgow. I've heard lots of comments about daft weegies going out unprepared for the conditions and what did they expect etc etc?

Well I'll tell you what they expected. "Light snow showers" is what they expected - because that is what was forecast.

That is the whole explanation of what happened. People set off for work, dropped their kids at school etc on the basis that there was going to be some light snow over Glasgow and Lanarkshire. What happened was completely different.

Like most people I got stuck in it, though thankfully not on the motorway. Like most people I had listened to the weather forecast, in my case on Radio Scotland but it said the same thing on Radio Clyde, Real Radio etc.

I feel there is a pretty massive re-writing of what happened going on here. The fact is we went out prepared for the weather that was forecast but it turned out to be much much worse. It is probably a fair point that they should have closed the motorways earlier but with regard to the Glasgow situation there is very little that could have been done once it all started to happen. It might have made some difference if more vehicles had winter tyres but I don't think that would have stopped the gridlock.

PS: In case anyone feels they have to point out that radio 4 forecast heavy snow showers on Sunday night - yes I believe you. But how many people listen to Radio 4 on a Sunday night - and even if you did why would you base your actions on a weather forecast from Sunday night rather than what was being forecast on Monday morning? It is a natural assumption that the most recent forecast is the correct one.

PS Subrosa the reason people left work early to pick up their kids or just to go home was quite a sensible one in my view. Essentially the whole of Glasgow was gridlocked. All trains were cancelled and all buses taken off the roads because it was too dangerous for them to drive. The word went out for everyone to get home any way they could in the afternoon because they did not want tens of thousands of people - particularly with children in tow - walking about in the dark when you could not tell what was the pavement and what was the road due to the level of snow. In my view that decision potentially saved lives. Monday was a bad day but it could have been a heck of a lot worse.

cynicalHighlander said...

Just heard on the radio that he has resigned!

Time for Andy Kerr, Iain Gray, dickhead Baker(can't remember his first name), Jacky Baillie and others on pure incompetence.

RMcGeddon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Strathturret said...

The climate change legislation was passed unanimously by the Scottsh Parliament and has won much international approval.

RMcGeddon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Mxyzptlk said...

Even better idea from

Stewart Stevenson

Good Byee! Good Byee!
Wipe the tear, baby dear, from your eyee
Tho' it's hard to part, I know,
I'll be tickled to death to go.
Don't cryee! don't sighee!
There's a silver lining in the skyee
Bonsoir, old thing! cheerio! chin-chin!
Nah poo! Toodleoo! Goodbyee!

cynicalHighlander said...

RMcGeddon just because your opinion differs from anothers does not give you the right of defining them as a fool, it just shows your own biased assumption.

RMcGeddon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Public said...

After all that snow, does anybody else think we've saved too much CO2?

subrosa said...

RA, I wasn't adding weight to it. I was suggesting that all vehicles should be made to use winter tyres.

I believe Mr Stevenson has now resigned.

subrosa said...

The weight didn't help in my car Strathturret and fortunately I drove on reasonably cleared roads.

Look into the specifics of winter tyres. They're quite different from snow tyres or chains.

subrosa said...

Rm too often in recent years lorries jack-knife in bad weather. It's time we had a system like the Scandanavians. After all they get similar, if slightly harsher, winters than us.

subrosa said...

Oh dear Niko. Many thanks. I believe he has now resigned. That should please you.

subrosa said...

K, with respect I don't think anyone in the central belt was interested in what happened north of them two weeks ago. We had 18" of snow and two days of it. Did I hear any sympathy from the central belt media? No.

Two weeks ago we were also told 'intermittent snow showers with drifts on higher ground'.

Nevertheless, we either stayed safe indoors to attempted the roads if we had a vehicle which we knew would cope. That's the way it goes here. We don't expect to get around as if it's June.

I suspect very few of those stuck last Monday had even a shovel in their boot. Most of us here carry one automatically and, with the exception of last winter, haven't needed it but we automatically stick one in the boot.

I have to disagree with you about the schools closures K. All it did was to add to the traffic chaos when the worst of the snow was falling. Bad move. If the children had been left until normal leaving time then the traffic would have been radically reduced. Do so many children live outside walking distance of their school? Were they not dressed for winter weather and appropriate footwear?

subrosa said...

Aye CH. Unfortunately it was his media performance which was the problem, particularly Newsnicht.

Ah of course the opposition will make hay. Time to get onto Wendy chairing the Scotland Bill I think.

subrosa said...

Strathturret, I get rather upset with our attempts at trying to be leaders in 'climate change'. It's a scam and more and more people recognise that. I couldn't care less if half the country agreed as well as our Parliament. They're wrong and going to cost us independence.

cynicalHighlander said...

RMcGeddon what I take from that is the financial element is your overiding problem with AGW in my opinion clouding the issue not science. I agree with you over the financial scam but not on the science as in the balance of things we are/have released a large amount of CO2 which took millions of years to bury out of sight and influence our and everything elses climate. This finite planet doesn't belong just to us humans.

RMcGeddon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cynicalHighlander said...

Why wind power works in Denmark

Is the hockey stick broken?

Sorry to assume that those who differ from yourself have been programmed says enough as to where you are coming from.

RMcGeddon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cynicalHighlander said...

Don't worry RMcGeddon I'll go to bed with a smug smile, g'night.

RMcGeddon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
K said...

Sunrosa - Stewart Stevenson was forced to resign because of what happened in Glasgow and Lanarkshire last Monday. Not because of anything which happened previously.

Also I do not think you fully understood what I was saying regarding the school closures in Glasgow.

Driving to pick up kids was not an option. There was nothing moving in Glasgow by the beginning of Momday afternoon. No cars. No trains. No buses. The only option was Shanks' Pony. Had parents not gone on foot and collected their children while it was still light they would have been walking them home in the dark and it would not have been safe.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

This winter tyres thing.

I had never heard of them until about last week.

There wouldn't be a lobbying campaign going on amongst the big tyre manufacturers, would there? Aided and abetted by the likes of Quickfit?

Just wondering.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"There was nothing moving in Glasgow by the beginning of Momday afternoon. No cars. No trains."


I went to Edinburgh last Monday by train.

Changed at Polmont. Got to Haymarket. Got back again. Got the train home to Ayr, and used the clockwork orange both ways.

Things were tricky, it's true; but to say nothing was moving is just wild exaggeration.

subrosa said...

He was forced to resign because of his performance on Newsnight K.

That's rather odd. My friend's son had to leave work at 10.30am to go and pick up his children. As far as I understand it one school closed at 10.15 and the other at 10.45 but he did manage to get both children home safely in his car.

Schools here closed at 3pm in the bad weather, giving the children an extra half an hour to get home before it gets dark at 4pm. Sensible.

subrosa said...

Not that I know of Weekend Yachtsman. I just happened to find out about them the other week when talking to my tyre place. He wasn't pushing them either, but mentioned snow tyres/chains are kind of old-fashioned and winter tyres are proving to be the thing.

I'm all for them.

subrosa said...

Sorry folks if one this looks a bit of a one sided discussion because one commenter has removed all his comments. He hasn't given any explanation either.

RMcGeddon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
subrosa said...

Thanks for the explanation RM. I do understand.

RMcGeddon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
subrosa said...

Keep watching RM. We need all opinions. Nobody should think their opinion isn't valued.

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