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Some Thought’s About That Opening Ceremony

Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins start's the opening ceremony
The Games of the 30th Olympiad opened last night in Stratford with a ceremony which gathered much acclaim. There may well be posts on the Olympics, but these will appear on the brother blog to this, Fan With a Laptop.

Before I go on I must confess that i thought that firstly Paris should have won the bid for these games. When London won the bid in July 2005, i thought that the opening ceremony would be a horribly anglocentric affair. City gents with bowler hats and other symbols of Englishness would be at the fore. Even the pre-ceremony blurb sounded like Kohn Major’s “Cricket on the green… warm beer… spinsters on cycles” speech brought to life. We were wrong.

Boyle’s vision was astonishing, and somehow managed to be British without very much of a hint of Anglocentricity. The Pandemonium section had so much going on, that a second look is probably obligatory. The voguing “corks” (mill owners) were rather surreal, while I'm still trying to work out where the chimney’s came from. The part with the suffragettes looked similar in style to Paisley’s own “Sma Shot” day, and was one of the many pokes in the eye to our current government. A theme picked up on by the Tory MP Aiden Burnley.

The most “offensive” part for Mr Burnley (and one suspects to the visiting US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney – considering his opposition to “Obama-care”) was the open love letter to the NHS and to Great Ormond Street Hospital – both touted as great British achievements in the teeth of continued opposition. Burnley’s rant on the twittersphere came after the appearance of the SS Windrush, dubbing the ceremony “multi-cultural crap” and “the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen”. This morning he seemed to dig himself into a deeper hole by completely marginalising the biggest selling musical genre in the past decade. Rap and R&B stars have created the biggest selling records of the past 10 years, our “Grime” stars are making the kind of waves in America that many Brit pop bands failed to do, while American R&B records increasingly sound like British dance records from the mid 90’s. Why wouldn’t that be celebrated by the guy who worked with Leftfield (on the soundtrack of “Shallow Grave”) and picked Underworld & New Order (among others) for the soundtrack for “Trainspotting”. Jeez, Danny Boyle even made Mr Bean funny for one night.

Taken as a whole, it wasn’t some sort of lefty paradise, but rather cleverly picked the good things that make us British, it was great to watch one of these things and get the small cultural references, which I think only the French were sniffy towards. The “Bond with the Queen” skit was unexpected and good (even if Brenda spoiled it afterwards by failing to crack a smile during the rest of the ceremony), while I commented on Bean earlier. The only duff notes were struck by McCartney and maybe the Arctic Monkey’s – both were slightly out of kilter with the rest of the ceremony.

For a resolutely small p political ceremony, maybe the most interesting thing to say was that it was probably a much better advert for the Union than anything “Better Together” will throw at us over the next two years, and portrayed a cool version of Britishness that the SNP will fail to rebut.

The Crisis that Hasn't Gone Away

We like justice,justice is good.  Yet the sentences beinghanded out to the rioters do not sit right. Feel free to throw the book at them, though I don’t think putting peoplebehind bar’s is enough of a punishment. No, the real problem with the sentences is that whatever the governmentsays and thinks, whatever right wing commentators say, the rioters are beingpicked out and picked on.

Sure the riotersdeserve the sentences given.  But askyourself this, why only five politicians have been prosecuted for fraudulentlyclaiming for expenses (I can think of at least three former cabinet ministerswho should have been charged for “flipping”)? More pertinent to the current news about Banking reforms is the questionof why Goodwin and McKillop have not faced charges of criminal negligence overthe take-over of ABN Amro.

To recap, the RoyalBank of Scotlandwon the race to buy the Dutch bank ABN Amro in 2007 to the acclaim of allsides, Salmond, McConnell and the prime minister in waiting Gordon Brown. Barclay’shas also shown an interest in the bank, but pulled out leaving the field clearfor RBS.  No one questioned the haste ofthe deal, or the speed that the deal was being rushed through…  at least until it was “discovered” that ABNAmro was swimming in debt, having been exposed to US Sub-prime debt.  You would have thought that Goodwin &McKillop would have had an inkling of the debt problem that the Dutch bank had.  Maybe Barclay’s did?  After all, there was no clear reason for thempulling stumps.  Then again, Goodwin wassomewhat engaged in what could be described as Ugandan affairs at the time.

Bankers and theevents of 2007-8 have crept back into the news with the publication next weekof the Vickers Report into the Banking Crisis, with the beginnings of askirmish about when to implement its findings. Also there have been leaks from the memoirs of Alistair Darling “Back From The Brink: 1000 Days at Number 11”.  In it Darling confirms that Brown wanted tosack him in the post Euro-Election reshuffle of 2009, he described Brown as “Brutal& volcanic”.  He also confirmed thatboth he and Brown wanted to sack the governor of the Bank of England, MervynKing, but couldn’t find a replacement. It is also alleged that Darling thought that "My worry was that they (the bankers) were so arrogant and stupid thatthey might bring us all down". So far, so rewriting of history. If they were worried about the bankers, why didn’t they take them on?  After all Paul Myers did grant Goodwin hismegabucks pension.

The Lib Dems promisedto take them on at the last Election.  Asa result of the coalition talks we have The Vickers Report, which is rumouredto be proposing the separation of “casino” banking from normal high streetbanking.  While we do not know what thereport is going to propose, that has not stopped the debate into when thefindings should be implemented.  The CBIclaimed that because of the slowdown in the economy, this makes it difficult toimplement these findings at that point, with their Director General JohnCridland saying “We're going to have amajor problem if growth stagnates, and at that point, my businesses being ableto get cash from their banks is critical. Anything which makes it harder for banks to keep the wheels of theeconomy well-oiled is not good timing."

This has promptedthe Banks to also ask for the proposals to be deferred, with Angela Knight theformer Tory MP for Erewash and current Chief Executive of the British BankersAssociation saying that banks should be allowed to "finance the recovery first, pay back the taxpayer next and only thenset about reform.  If more regulationremains at the top of the list, then this will only have the affect of riskingthe recovery which is so essential to our future”.  While this outlook will suit the Tories, whowould rather like these proposals to be kicked into the long grass, the LibDems would rather like these proposals to be implemented as soon as possible.  As has been pointed out on this blog before,the failure of Gordon Brown’s time in government was the regulatory malfunctionthat was started when we was at the treasury. The current government are not showing any signs of knowing how tore-constitute the regulatory frame-work.

Of the three crisis’sto envelop British life in recent years, the crisis that engulfed British banksand the finance sector came first.  Yetwhile we see the list of charged rioters from August mount, we see no sign ofany criminal investigation into the actions of the bankers.  There has been no sign of a full inquiry intothe regulatory failures and there has been no sign of our politicians from anyside standing up to the bankers.  Inshort, nothing has really changed since 2008. Ed Balls is even making speeches in the City promising a return to thedays of light touch regulation.  Sorry,not good enough.  Tougher regulation isrequired, preferably as quickly as possible. After all, our politicians face being tarred with the brush of beingsoft on financial crime and soft on the causes of financial crime.

How To Discourage People From Coming To Your City

Watching Scotland’s three representatives in the Europa League fall before the competition proper started was depressing & dispiriting. Yet it wasn’t as depressing as the shockingly small minded and short termist decision made by Edinburgh City Council over the trams debacle.

To be fair to this lot, they have form with terrible decisions on this project.  Whether it is their choice of contractor or whether it is the contract decisions, Edinburgh City Council have not covered themselves in glory with this project.  Come to think of it, not very many of Scotland’s politicians have covered themselves in glory with calls for a public inquiry.  The terms of which must look into how a local council made such a balls up.
 
What this cock up will do is put our leaders off of any kind of transport projects, unless it relates to roads.  Rather than be put off of these kind of projects, Scotland needs more of these kind of projects.  Take for example Glasgow.  To the uninitiated pedestrian, it is not the most accessible place to get around.  A certain amount of local knowledge is needed to get around Glasgow, what number of bus to get or where exactly the Underground stations are.  Before the mishandled Trams project in Edinburgh, a route from east to west and a route from north to south would have been conceivable.

Not just Glasgow.  It is shocking that a town the size of Paisley does not have a single transport hub.  East Kilbride has a bus station, which is fairly easy to use and find busses that will take you to where you want to go.  Yet Paisley, which is now struggling to hold on to it’s status as Scotland’s largest town has no such facility.  With the added element of their busses effectively stopping after about 7pm, city – you’re having a laugh!

When I visited Manchester (above) to see Depeche Mode just before Christmas 2009, I was very impressed with how easy it was to get around the city.  The trams were easy to use, there was a bus that took us from the train station to the Arndale Centre, and there were no sullen drivers spitting “Twoseventyfiiiivvve” at you.  All in all, a very pleasant experience which is the way it should be.  Yet I don’t remember headlines about how over budget the Manchester tram’s were, I don’t remember stories about how badly run the building of the trams were.  Indeed the trams are undergoing an expansion programme.  Go to places like Amsterdam, Munich or Berlin and it’s exactly the same thing.  So what’s the problem Edinburgh?

For a country that relies so much on tourism, we show no desire to improve the transport infrastructure – which would attract more visitors & help those of us that stay here.  Even the other project our politicians were very keen on – the Glasgow Airport Rail Link – showed a distinct lack of thought.  Had it been a proposal to link up Glasgow Airport to Govan, Braehead Shopping Centre and Renfrew it would have been much more beneficial to those communities and to the West of Scotland as a whole than an express service between Glasgow & the Airport. 

There are transport projects that are desirable that would help people to get around our towns and cities that little bit easier.  Those projects are the true victims of Edinburgh City Councils ineptitude, as it will now be just that little bit more difficult to get those projects off the ground.

If It's August, It Must Be Time To Discuss Megrahi (Again)

There are several key indicators that summer is coming to an end.  The football is back, Scottish clubs have embarrassed themselves in European competition, the Oval test match, the silly season and, most of all, talk about how stupid/reckless/immoral/brave/honourable (delete where applicable) Kenny MacAskill was in releasing the man (left) convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

The latest instalment comes with the background of the ongoing Arab Spring claiming the West’s favourite pantomime dictator, Muammar Gadaffi, as it’s latest victim.  The latest flaring up of this uprising has forced that decision back on to the news cycles as Senators Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and the US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Mitt???) have all called for Megrahi not to be brought back to Scotland, but to be brought to the USA for trial.

While those noises continue to rumble from across the pond, a look at Lalland Peat Worrier’s post on the subject makes the point that this claim would contravene the fifth amendment of the United States constitution; our own government continues to dig a deeper hole with its scant mistrust of Holyrood.  Hague, when questioned about Megrahi said “It was, of course, a matter for the Scottish executive (sic)... and so it's not a matter I can control, but if I was a Scottish minister rather than a UK minister I would be looking to urgently review the situation to see what I could do about it."

The utterly galling aspect of this is that all this discussion ignores the very large elephant in the room, that there are severe doubts about the veracity of the conviction.  There is doubt about the route of the bomb into Heathrow, there is doubt about the identification of Megrahi and there is doubt about what type of detonator was used in the bomb.  Wherever you look at the case, there is flimsy evidence against Megrahi creaking under the weight of evidence pointing to Megrahi’s innocence.  There’s even room for MacAskill’s favourite legal tactic, the prosecution withholding evidence – in this case the break in at Heathrow on the morning of the bombing which was not revealed until September 2001.

It’s for these reasons that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission are rumoured to be set to release a report casting doubt on the conviction of Megrahi.  The American politicians you would expect to be ignorant of this, however for Hague to not take this into account before opening his mouth does not seem like the actions of a senior cabinet minister.  Then again, you can probably guess my opinion of this government. 

However the fear is that Megrahi will not live to see his name being cleared.  Not from the Cancer, but from zealous spooks keen to keep the truth from emerging. When thinking about this one should bear in mind the quote from the American senators speaking after a meeting of the British victims of Lockerbie “Your government and our government know exactly what happened at Lockerbie. But they are not going to tell you”.  One hopes that if a stable Libya emerges, that the day of truth also comes closer.

Move Along, You've Had Your Fun

I know that the Conservatives are keen on seeing the Phone-hacking story disappear from the news cycle, but on Newsnicht on Thursday Gordon Brewer looked like he was willing the Phonehacking story to disappear (ironically enough, he will have got his wish with the Norwegen terrorist attacks and another inductee to what Mrs Cobain called “The Stupid Club”).  While the possible collapse of the Euro and the unfolding crisis in Somalia are weighty news stories, it’s still wrong for politicians and journalists to will us to concentrate on these matters, like stern teachers.

Yet, last weeks events have signalled an end to the first phase of this scandal.  It was right that after the Murdoch’s & Rebeckah Brooks appeared before the Media select committee and Cameron made his statement before Parliament that there should be an end of a chapter feel.  We now await the police’s findings and any proposed prosecutions.  Phone hacking itself will disappear back to the backburner, unless new revelations are unearthed involving NI or more likely from other newspapers like those under Trinity Mirror or the Daily Mail (who lets not forget according to the What Price Privacy Now report were the biggest clients for illegally obtained personal data).

The focus of this story will possibly now shift to the events surrounding the proposed buy-out of BSkyB by NI.  Before the scandal broke, Jeremy Hunt was due to wave the bid through – giving NI the green light to bid for the satellite company.  All that changed with the scandal and now attention has switched to what conversations went on between Cameron, Hunt & Murdoch since Cable was stripped of his role in December.  At the debate on Wednesday, Cameron said that he had no “inappropriate conversations” in relation to this subject.  Jeremy Hunt contradicted this by saying that “the discussions the prime minister had on the BSkyB deal were irrelevant”. 

It is interesting to note that despite the rush to refer the deal to OFCOM, and the faith everyone places on that regulator regarding a “fit & proper” rule to holding a licence to run a television company.  Private Eye have noted that OFCOM have not applied these “fit & proper” rules in the past – most recently in the case of the acquisition of Channel 5 by Britain’s pornographer in chief (and owner of the Daily Star & Daily Express) Richard Desmond.  The suspicion here is that OFCOM would have waved this deal through as well

Cameron’s performance last week only really limited the damage to him.  Had he suffered as he has done in PMQ’s of late, or had Miliband pitched his response a little better (been a bit more subtle), then the speculation about Cameron’s future may well have grown.  As it is, Cameron should be safe until the Conservatives convene for their conference in Manchester, which makes conference season an interesting one.  But to return to the point made at the start, yes there are stories that deserve our attention, it’s just that Phonehacking and NI’s attempt to pervert the course of democracy is one of them, and should not be dismissed so easily by people with vested interests.

Hackergate Comes to Holyrood for A Day

This week saw the Scottish government attempt to distance themselves from the hackergate scandal threatening to engulf the government at Westminster.  By disclosing correspondence & meetings, the SNP hope that this will put the matter to rest.  With hindsight, it does not look particularly good for Salmond.

The disclosures revealed that Salmond first met the Dirty Digger in October 2007, with Salmond writing afterwards “I enjoyed our conversation and, as ever, found your views both insightful and stimulating”.  Salmond also invited the Digger to the Ryder Cup at Kentucky as part of a Scottish delegation (Murdoch, probably showing more political nous than Salmond at this point declined this invitation) and also to The Gathering, the centrepiece of the Year of Homecoming events – in the hope of securing television coverage on BSkyB.  Salmond also met the son of Digger, James Murdoch in January of this year, ostensibly to discuss “business opportunities for BSkyB in Scotland”.  Whether this evolved into a conversation about what will happen during the election is anyone’s guess.

It’s wrong for SNP supporters to claim that there can be nothing suspicious about Salmond’s meetings with the Murdoch’s because the Scottish Government do not hold the same powers over broadcasting & culture that Westminster does.  What the Scottish Government can do is pull limited economic levers in relation to business rates.  We can also speculate that maybe a future Scottish Government could entice NI to move to Glasgow lock stock and barrel because of the “excellent” corporation tax rates that the SNP are keen to put into place.  I’m not saying that will happen, it is just a possible scenario.

The difference between the SNP’s handling and Labour’s handling has been night and day, which shows that Labour haven’t learned from May.  While the SNP have at least been proactive in trying to convince us that nothing untoward happened, Labour have invited us to think in cynical terms about the SNP.  If we are to do this, let’s extend that cynical thought process to a party who enjoyed the support of the Digger for 12 years before the acrimonious split in 2009, who haven’t exactly been so forthcoming about their own meetings with Murdoch, NI or BSkyB.  What meetings did Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell enjoy with the Murdochs?

Labour have been happy to throw the mud around, but have been less than happy to disclose any of their own meetings.  If Labour are happy to ask us to believe that Salmond supped with the devil, to garner the approval of News International, perhaps we should ask what shape or form the pound of flesh took to pay for, say the noose front page from 3 May 2007?  Or did the Blair government pick up that particular tab?  After all  Rebeckah Wade (as she was at the time) thought of the prime minister as “her Tony”.

Some Quotes That Occured To Me About This Week

They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation” – Thatch, September 1987

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit” – Gordon Gekko “Wall Street” (1987)

Tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime” – Tony Blair, April 1994

I only wanted something else to do but hang around” – The Pet Shop Boys “Suburbia” – September 1986

Imagine you are 14 years old, and you live in a flat four stories up.  It’s the summer holidays and you don’t have any pocket money.  That’s your life…  you hang about the streets and you look bored bored bored.  And you look around you.  Who isn’t bored?  Who isn’t hanging around because they don’t have any money?” – David Cameron, July 2006

The handwringing apologists on the left relish the opportunity to try to blame the violence on poverty, social depravation and a disaffected black youth.  To blame the cuts is immoral and cynical” – The Daily Mail 10 August 2011

No Future, no future, no future for you” – The Sex Pistols “God Save The Queen” -  June 1977

How To Discourage People From Coming To Your City

Watching Scotland’s three representatives in the Europa League fall before the competition proper started was depressing & dispiriting. Yet it wasn’t as depressing as the shockingly small minded and short termist decision made by Edinburgh City Council over the trams debacle.

To be fair to this lot, they have form with terrible decisions on this project.  Whether it is their choice of contractor or whether it is the contract decisions, Edinburgh City Council have not covered themselves in glory with this project.  Come to think of it, not very many of Scotland’s politicians have covered themselves in glory with calls for a public inquiry.  The terms of which must look into how a local council made such a balls up.
 
What this cock up will do is put our leaders off of any kind of transport projects, unless it relates to roads.  Rather than be put off of these kind of projects, Scotland needs more of these kind of projects.  Take for example Glasgow.  To the uninitiated pedestrian, it is not the most accessible place to get around.  A certain amount of local knowledge is needed to get around Glasgow, what number of bus to get or where exactly the Underground stations are.  Before the mishandled Trams project in Edinburgh, a route from east to west and a route from north to south would have been conceivable.

Not just Glasgow.  It is shocking that a town the size of Paisley does not have a single transport hub.  East Kilbride has a bus station, which is fairly easy to use and find busses that will take you to where you want to go.  Yet Paisley, which is now struggling to hold on to it’s status as Scotland’s largest town has no such facility.  With the added element of their busses effectively stopping after about 7pm, city – you’re having a laugh!

When I visited Manchester (above) to see Depeche Mode just before Christmas 2009, I was very impressed with how easy it was to get around the city.  The trams were easy to use, there was a bus that took us from the train station to the Arndale Centre, and there were no sullen drivers spitting “Twoseventyfiiiivvve” at you.  All in all, a very pleasant experience which is the way it should be.  Yet I don’t remember headlines about how over budget the Manchester tram’s were, I don’t remember stories about how badly run the building of the trams were.  Indeed the trams are undergoing an expansion programme.  Go to places like Amsterdam, Munich or Berlin and it’s exactly the same thing.  So what’s the problem Edinburgh?

For a country that relies so much on tourism, we show no desire to improve the transport infrastructure – which would attract more visitors & help those of us that stay here.  Even the other project our politicians were very keen on – the Glasgow Airport Rail Link – showed a distinct lack of thought.  Had it been a proposal to link up Glasgow Airport to Govan, Braehead Shopping Centre and Renfrew it would have been much more beneficial to those communities and to the West of Scotland as a whole than an express service between Glasgow & the Airport. 

There are transport projects that are desirable that would help people to get around our towns and cities that little bit easier.  Those projects are the true victims of Edinburgh City Councils ineptitude, as it will now be just that little bit more difficult to get those projects off the ground.

If It's August, It Must Be Time To Discuss Megrahi (Again)

There are several key indicators that summer is coming to an end.  The football is back, Scottish clubs have embarrassed themselves in European competition, the Oval test match, the silly season and, most of all, talk about how stupid/reckless/immoral/brave/honourable (delete where applicable) Kenny MacAskill was in releasing the man (left) convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

The latest instalment comes with the background of the ongoing Arab Spring claiming the West’s favourite pantomime dictator, Muammar Gadaffi, as it’s latest victim.  The latest flaring up of this uprising has forced that decision back on to the news cycles as Senators Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and the US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Mitt???) have all called for Megrahi not to be brought back to Scotland, but to be brought to the USA for trial.

While those noises continue to rumble from across the pond, a look at Lalland Peat Worrier’s post on the subject makes the point that this claim would contravene the fifth amendment of the United States constitution; our own government continues to dig a deeper hole with its scant mistrust of Holyrood.  Hague, when questioned about Megrahi said “It was, of course, a matter for the Scottish executive (sic)... and so it's not a matter I can control, but if I was a Scottish minister rather than a UK minister I would be looking to urgently review the situation to see what I could do about it."

The utterly galling aspect of this is that all this discussion ignores the very large elephant in the room, that there are severe doubts about the veracity of the conviction.  There is doubt about the route of the bomb into Heathrow, there is doubt about the identification of Megrahi and there is doubt about what type of detonator was used in the bomb.  Wherever you look at the case, there is flimsy evidence against Megrahi creaking under the weight of evidence pointing to Megrahi’s innocence.  There’s even room for MacAskill’s favourite legal tactic, the prosecution withholding evidence – in this case the break in at Heathrow on the morning of the bombing which was not revealed until September 2001.

It’s for these reasons that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission are rumoured to be set to release a report casting doubt on the conviction of Megrahi.  The American politicians you would expect to be ignorant of this, however for Hague to not take this into account before opening his mouth does not seem like the actions of a senior cabinet minister.  Then again, you can probably guess my opinion of this government. 

However the fear is that Megrahi will not live to see his name being cleared.  Not from the Cancer, but from zealous spooks keen to keep the truth from emerging. When thinking about this one should bear in mind the quote from the American senators speaking after a meeting of the British victims of Lockerbie “Your government and our government know exactly what happened at Lockerbie. But they are not going to tell you”.  One hopes that if a stable Libya emerges, that the day of truth also comes closer.

How To Discourage People From Coming To Your City

Watching Scotland’s three representatives in the Europa League fall before the competition proper started was depressing & dispiriting. Yet it wasn’t as depressing as the shockingly small minded and short termist decision made by Edinburgh City Council over the trams debacle.

To be fair to this lot, they have form with terrible decisions on this project.  Whether it is their choice of contractor or whether it is the contract decisions, Edinburgh City Council have not covered themselves in glory with this project.  Come to think of it, not very many of Scotland’s politicians have covered themselves in glory with calls for a public inquiry.  The terms of which must look into how a local council made such a balls up.
 
What this cock up will do is put our leaders off of any kind of transport projects, unless it relates to roads.  Rather than be put off of these kind of projects, Scotland needs more of these kind of projects.  Take for example Glasgow.  To the uninitiated pedestrian, it is not the most accessible place to get around.  A certain amount of local knowledge is needed to get around Glasgow, what number of bus to get or where exactly the Underground stations are.  Before the mishandled Trams project in Edinburgh, a route from east to west and a route from north to south would have been conceivable.

Not just Glasgow.  It is shocking that a town the size of Paisley does not have a single transport hub.  East Kilbride has a bus station, which is fairly easy to use and find busses that will take you to where you want to go.  Yet Paisley, which is now struggling to hold on to it’s status as Scotland’s largest town has no such facility.  With the added element of their busses effectively stopping after about 7pm, city – you’re having a laugh!

When I visited Manchester (above) to see Depeche Mode just before Christmas 2009, I was very impressed with how easy it was to get around the city.  The trams were easy to use, there was a bus that took us from the train station to the Arndale Centre, and there were no sullen drivers spitting “Twoseventyfiiiivvve” at you.  All in all, a very pleasant experience which is the way it should be.  Yet I don’t remember headlines about how over budget the Manchester tram’s were, I don’t remember stories about how badly run the building of the trams were.  Indeed the trams are undergoing an expansion programme.  Go to places like Amsterdam, Munich or Berlin and it’s exactly the same thing.  So what’s the problem Edinburgh?

For a country that relies so much on tourism, we show no desire to improve the transport infrastructure – which would attract more visitors & help those of us that stay here.  Even the other project our politicians were very keen on – the Glasgow Airport Rail Link – showed a distinct lack of thought.  Had it been a proposal to link up Glasgow Airport to Govan, Braehead Shopping Centre and Renfrew it would have been much more beneficial to those communities and to the West of Scotland as a whole than an express service between Glasgow & the Airport. 

There are transport projects that are desirable that would help people to get around our towns and cities that little bit easier.  Those projects are the true victims of Edinburgh City Councils ineptitude, as it will now be just that little bit more difficult to get those projects off the ground.

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