NB: This post was written before the resignation of Stewart Stevenson, which as this post argues was overdue.
For many years, we have laughed at the south of England for their inability to cope with snow fall in winter, and how any kind of snow fall brings the south east of England to a stop. Ah the schadenfreude!
That joke is now on us, thanks to the inaction of Father Jack lookalike and Transport minister Stewart Stevenson. There were weather forecasts on Sunday predicting that there would be heavy snow showers on Monday morning, there was even a weather warning for that time. Our pilot even said that heavy snow showers were forecast for Glasgow around the time we were due to arrive. So why were the gritters not working the streets?
It was supposedly raining just before the snow started. I do remember that the weather was calm, if very cold as we made our way through a deserted Paisley at 6am on Monday morning. With not a gritting lorry in sight.
Stevenson might have got through Monday or Tuesday with little damage. Any hope that he would have escaped any serious damage though will have sank with the series of interviews, culminating with his infamous interview on Newsnicht Scotland – where he claimed that no snow was forecast. The BBC and the Met Office soon countered the lie, by re-playing weather forecasts from Sunday. More curious was the interview with Salmond on Wednesday morning where he talked ad nausium about the forecast for Monday at 08:01, at which point snow was already falling.
Stevenson should have been formulating plan B throughout Sunday evening in preparation for “The Perfect Storm” – as Salmond put it. He should have been in contact with AMEY (who hold the contract for maintenance of Scotland’s motorways) and the local authorities (who have been even more remiss with their winter weather programmes – large parts of Glenburn & Foxbar were still untreated up to Thursday morning). His inaction has made Scotland even more of a laughing stock than it is already. Does it not occur to our politicians to seek expert advice from countries who deal with these conditions on a regular basis?
What is clear though is that by seeking to blame the lack of any accurate forecast, Stevenson, Salmond and the rest of the SNP have left themselves exposed as being inept and incompetent. With the Holyrood election’s now under 5 months away, an old phrase springs to mind – a phrase often repeated in the Sunday Post. Oppositions don’t win elections, Government’s lose them.