Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Where is Lord Adonis?

Have you seen this man?

The country has a bit of snow and the trains stop, the roads are gridlocked, airports are at a standstill, Eurostar is paralysed and thousands of people are left stranded all night, huddled in their cars, unable to get home.

Some have even frozen to death.

How does Norway cope? Or Sweden? Or Finland?

Do their schools close every time it snows?

Does their transport infrastructure seize up?

Do they limp from crisis to crisis as chief executives and quango directors are hauled before a baying media to explain themselves?

Whose job is it to keep the arterial roads open?

Whose responsibility is it to ensure that snow-ploughs and gritters are dispatched?

Some councils undoubtedly have their act together, but others are performing abysmally.

Why is no-one collaring the Secretary of State for Transport?

Indeed, where is he?

Or would he just blame his 2008 predecessor Geoff Hoon? And would he just blame his 2007 predecessor Ruth Kelly? And would she blame her 2006 predecessor Douglas Alexander? And would he blame Alastair Darling? And would he blame Stephen Byers? And would he blame John Prescott?

Doubtless he would just blame the decades of Tory underfunding.

The turnover in this department of state is indicative of a much deeper problem.

There is no long-term transport strategy because the department can only think in terms of 12 months at a time: the average duration of a transport secretary.

So it is not Lord Adonis’ fault.

Or Geoff Hoon’s, or Ruth Kelly’s, or Dougie Alexander’s, or Alastair Darling’s...

It is the BBC’s for not making this an issue, for not scrutinising accountability, for not criticising Labour, for not pursuing Lord Adonis to the four corners of the earth to explain himself.

And before communicants point out to His Grace that the inclement weather cannot be blamed on this Labour government, he would like to make it clear that he is fully aware of this.

As the Prime Minister has said, it is China’s fault.

UPDATE Tue 22 Dec 9.00am:

The Sun has managed to track down His Lordship - he is holidaying in The Alps. Obviously, he wanted more snow. A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Andrew Adonis is monitoring the impact of bad weather on transport extremely closely while on a short family break over Christmas."

That's okay then. It's reassuring to know that we are being monitored.


Blogger The Fact Compiler said...

Good point and well made.

It's all very well micromanaging the railways providing you're prepared to carry the can when it all goes wrong.

22 December 2009 at 09:33  
Blogger wg said...

Richard North at EU Referendum may have the answer.

One reason for the unpreparedness of our system to deal with the cold crisis is that our government and its quisling met office have to push the global warming scenario.

There can be no snow or ice. The new religion decrees so.

22 December 2009 at 09:43  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

Your Grace,

I think it has more to do with cost of winter measures vs cost of disruption. The countries you mention that do not grind to a halt when there is snowfall and ice, have far more snow and ice than us and therefore have to take action as its cost effective.

I blame the gulfstream myself.

22 December 2009 at 09:53  
Anonymous Brass Monkey said...

It's the wrong kind of global warming.

22 December 2009 at 09:54  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Your Grace, NuLab are the oranisational equivalent of a legless man entering an arse kicking competition. I don't think the Tories could muster anything better.

Word verification - weepa. Precisely...

22 December 2009 at 10:07  
Anonymous Knighthawk said...

Fear not Your Grace. Lord Adonis may have disappeared beneath the snow but the Rt Hon Sadiq Khan, Minister of Transport has spoken.

According to the Telegraph: Mr Khan said he did not want to jump to conclusions, but added: "What I do know is that there is no issue about not being enough grit, there is no issue about not enough snow ploughs. "What the issue is, is why it wasn't applied.

Well it might just be that Snow Ploughs “do what it says on the tin” and to apply rock salt (not grit) it helps to have enough Spreaders.

22 December 2009 at 10:08  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

The Highways Agency was "hived off" from the Civil Service and has it's own management.
This was done in order to ensure that the Minister was not directly responsible, and to reduce the "head count" of Civil Servants.
Just think of all the other government agencies where ministers are able to avoid responsibility. They conveniently forget that they appointed the head of the Agency and are therefore ultimately responsible.

22 December 2009 at 10:10  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

I agree with Maturecheese. There is a balance to made.

Some years ago,snowstorms hit Israel, which at that time was basking in the glow of international approbation as a super-efficient state.

The chaos can only be imagined as there was absolutely no provision for this type of weather.

Having said that, why should that stop us from using this situation as brickbat to attack this corrupt, incompetent and venal government that portrays itself as omniscient and (pause to laugh in one's hanky) good

But it doesn't surprise me that Lord Adonis can't be found. With a name like that he is probably still admiring himself in the mirror.

22 December 2009 at 10:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still no sign of D.Singh.....

22 December 2009 at 10:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Britain should, by and large, prepare itself for days that are overcast, with occasional sunshine and light showers. That's what we face the vast majority of the year. It's a waste of money having snow-clearing options like Austria or Canada do, or the ability to cope with high temperatures like India. The few days each year where these things cause problems just aren't worth planning for.

I'd rather Lord Adonis got extra capacity on our rail networks, made the tube stay open later and turned some of the A roads in to three-lane motorways...

22 December 2009 at 10:42  
Blogger Tarquin said...

The BBC's fault?

Like any of the media pursue this properly, they suffer from the same short-sightedness as politicians - it's only interesting when it's a crisis

Poor, partisan gesturing

22 December 2009 at 11:18  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Look; stop worrying about Singh. If you had made the effort to read his posts (hard work, I know), you would remember that he has gone on a three-week detox, and we still have about two weeks without him.

Somehow I'm sure we'll cope.

22 December 2009 at 11:20  
Anonymous bergen said...

Don't knock Adonis.He is almost unique in the present cabinet of being vaguely competent in general.

22 December 2009 at 11:22  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Your Grace.

Well, the trouble is no-one wants to be accountable nowadays. OK the government cannot dictate the weather (nor the EU, but doubtless if it tried a directive Britain would slavishly follow it King Cnute style), but they could have been a bit better in preperation re salt/grit supplies (especially given the weather in february of this year).

22 December 2009 at 11:43  
Anonymous Bag Lady said...

Oh, I am pleased to see D.Singh is going away for a while, the rest will do him so good (one hopes).

Lord A, will be gone soon as will this current government.....

22 December 2009 at 11:44  
Blogger francis said...

I agree with bergen. If there were one Labour minister you'd want to remain in post after the coming Conservative victory, it would be Adonis. He's genuinely, even passionately interested in the area for which he has responsibility, and doesn't give the impression of wanting to use his present position as a mere temporary stepping-stone to some more senior office.

Still, it is a surprise that we've only heard from his sidekick Khan. Perhaps he was travelling back from France and is still stranded in the tunnel.

22 December 2009 at 12:01  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

One winter in the mid-nineties, as I recall, there were severe snowstorms which, among other effects, brought the railway system to a standsill across a large part of northern Europe, including the British Isles. Sweden and Norway got their trains running again within 24 hours. In the UK it took about a week. It turned out that, for the whole of the UK, there was only one single locomotive with a snow plough/cow killer attachment to clear the rails, and this lone locomotive had to cover the whole network, mile by mile, branch line by branch line. I suspect they still haven't got round to buying a second one.

22 December 2009 at 12:02  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Pavements are ignored and roads are gritted in part and left to ice over in others. The creation of metropolitan district councils have caused the loss of local action. In the 1960s the paths were salted and roads cleared before the 1972 Reorganisation of Local Government.

The grandiosity of politicians creating giant political units has eroded any local pride and accountability. The subservience of everything to Whitehall has increased control but reduced effectiveness

22 December 2009 at 12:18  
Blogger I am Stan said...

Yo Your Gracieness...here in Nottingham the Tory council decided NOT to grit any of the pavements in the city centre,there have been many falls,ambulances tooing and froing for two days now...one elderly gent was badly hurt outside my workplace after slipping on ice..head wound!....

22 December 2009 at 12:34  
Blogger The Anti Christ said...


You may have had allegiances in the past but that was when we had a country of substance with men of substance. You may find that the present array of shysters and crooks have very different things on their, dare I say minds.

22 December 2009 at 12:35  
Blogger LuigiThreet said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

22 December 2009 at 13:42  
Anonymous Old Grumpy said...

Interestingly enough this complaint was levelled equally at the Blue Rinse party immediately prior to rail privatization when the turnover of ministers of transport was roughly 6 months for a couple of years, if I recall correctly.

But it's a wider issue, and probably one which can be blamed on the H&S mafia, who are so risk averse that they recommend everyone to shut down all operations at the first sign of the white stuff.

Insurers, too, are culpable. They are aware of the concurrent compensation culture in the courts (a godsend for the legal profession) which means that if little Johnny slips on a snowflake a foot inside the school walls, then it's the county education authority's fault, for opening "unsafe" schools.... and please hand over £100,000 in damages. So the result is that schools routinely close in fright.

Naturally, in other, saner (and colder) countries, there's no such nonsense. If Canadian schools had to close during snowfall then they'd be shut for 6 months.

So there you have it, another victory for the compensation culture feeding though to the legal profession, then to the insurers, to the schools, and the result is that GB Ltd simply folds over and dies when the temperature falls below freezing.

Pathetic, of course, but you can see the logic chain clearly enough.

PS Actually, the railways do rather better than the roads, on average.

PPS Actually, it WAS the wrong kind of snow. A national joke, I know, but we don't often get arctic fine powder snow down here in Southern England, and it was so fine it blew straight into the electric motors of the affected trains, thus neatly shorting them out. The story made instant headlines, and will, no doubt do so for ever more, but actually BR was right, it really, really was the wrong kind of snow.

22 December 2009 at 14:51  
Anonymous circus monkey said...

Tragic to think that not so long ago we were first among Industrial Nations and now we can't even find our way through the snow. No wonder there's so much hysteria over climate change!

22 December 2009 at 14:54  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Adonis was a Lib Dem who jumped ship to further his career.

Man of principle, eh?

22 December 2009 at 15:56  
Blogger The Anti Christ said...

From The Spectator

"The Daily Mail sets about David Cameron in its editorial today. It accuses him of “insulting voters’ intelligence”, tells him to “avoid the PR men, spivs and trashy celebrities with whom he has taken to mixing” and advises him to “spend less time with his spin-doctors, worrying about his image and trying to be all things to all men.”

What a relief, I have found other life on planet earth.

22 December 2009 at 16:28  
Blogger Dave said...

Putting the gritting of roads out to tender was always a bad mistake. When the borough council was responsible for keeping the roads clear, and when the Town Clerk and all the officers and councillors all lived in the town, they made sure that the roads and pavements were cleared.
Our Chief Executive (Town Clerk as was)lives miles away. Most of the officers do as well. The wage bill is so high that they've had to hive off and close down all the services they used to provide in order to pay the wages and pensions of the overpaid management.
So we get second best. At top prices.

22 December 2009 at 19:59  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Adonis will always run a mile from anything which might be seen as a failure.

That is why his fall-guy has been sent out to face the cameras.

22 December 2009 at 20:35  
Anonymous non-mouse said...

Well at least it's a better excuse than 'leaves on the line.' And never mind: that little sarko turkey's sorted it all out - all he had to do was throw a wobbler and the snow retreated.

23 December 2009 at 03:07  
Anonymous www.gotthegutstoweargod.com said...

As the Prime Minister has said, it is China’s fault:0) :0)

If you want to see snow, live in Canada...and nothing stops! Life goes on regardless. One of the usual over paid bafoons is probably sat sipping tea somewhere, saying, "oh doesn't it look pretty!"

23 December 2009 at 04:39  
Anonymous Singh's Cousin said...

Inscrutable bloody orientals.The Prime Minister is right.The Chinese
and the Muslims have collaborated to cause these unusual weather patterns.

23 December 2009 at 06:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The penny clattered to the floor . . .

"Or Geoff Hoon’s, or Ruth Kelly’s, or Dougie Alexander’s, or Alastair Darling’s...

It is the BBC’s for not making this an issue, for not scrutinising accountability, for not criticising Labour, . . ."

Well done, of course, this is just one isolated incident of the BBC controlling the UK via their media power.

Absolutely no way have the BBC ever closed down debate on any other critical issues.

No, because that would mean we live in a tin pot democracy controlled by a shady bunch of unelected untouchables.

Next, you'll be telling us that having a £3.2 billion per annum or prison scenario, has created a symbiotic relationship between Government and BBC so entwined that the two are inseparable.

Resulting in a 24/7 back scratching farce that Goebell's would admire unreservedly. No, I am afraid that really is going too far, I'm off back into my BBC safety zone now . . .

24 December 2009 at 11:48  

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