I have closely followed the news coverage of the weather in recent weeks. It has become a special topic – what with being stuck in the house for chunks of the time on account of the bad weather. Anyhow, my Newsnight Scotland transcript was fairly representative of Newsnight scotland coverage for the week after. Following the example of the Scottish television stations, radio networks and newspapers in harrying Stewart Stevenson to the point of resignation through personally blaming him for: (a) heavy snow; (b) people going out and travelling on motorways despite warnings from police not to; (c) people not watching weather forecasts; (d) not apologising for people driving (and then getting stuck) when they’ve been told not to drive; (e) not making the snow melt quicker; and (f) not being able to prevent journalists in Glasgow getting to work despite encountering about 1/6 of the snow faced by people 20 miles away on that day (and despite having had a small fraction of the cumulative snow faced by people elsewhere in the country over the previous week) I have been waiting for similar treatment for Transport secretary Philip Hammond (not MD from Private Eye, the other one). Hammond has argued, clearly unreasonably, that bad weather happens, that bad weather happens in other places too and they’re stuck, that sometimes people ignore advice and go out and travel when they’re told not to, and that the people who clear and grit our roads are doing their best to cope in very difficult circumstances. Or that new transport minister Keith Brown (no, me neither) should resign because Edinburgh has been hit by very bad weather after Aberdeen was hit by very bad weather earlier in the week. But nothing. There’s been as little in the way of media calls for resignations as there has been snow in my immediate area over the past forty eight hours.
I am therefore trying to work out what the difference is.
I think it is something to do with the lack of snow affecting BBC Scotland journalists getting to work in Glasgow or flying away for Christmas from Glasgow airport. The moment they’re hit the media will really start gunning for the transport ministers.
Meanwhile it makes the forced resignation of Stewart Stevenson - which came after sustained media criticism and talk of motions of confidence and the like from opposition politicians who appear not to worry about setting a very dangerous precedent for the extent of ministerial responsibility in Holyrood – look ever more ridiculous and unjustifiable.