Sunday, 12 December 2010

Bad weather leads to minister's resignation

Stewart Stevenson as depicted by The Sun

Is Scotland's transport minister, Stewart Stevenson, the first cabinet member to be forced out of office by bad weather? Wily Scottish first minister Alex Salmond seemed to think so and quoted from Burns to make his point.

But he knew that the minister could not survive a no confidence vote in the Scottish Parliament this week. He had been targeted in a tabloid campaign which included unflattering photographs and cartoon versions of his less than prepossessing appearance.

The minister wasn't critcised because the weather was bad, but because information was not released quickly enough about how bad conditions were leading lorry drivers and motorists to be trapped overnight in their cars. It is fortunate that no one died as a result. The minister then compounded his errors by going on television and declaring that there had been a 'first class response'.

There is a Scottish Parliament election next May and the gloves are starting to come off. The transport minister had to be sacrificed for his party. It all reminds us of Harold Macmillan's warning of the importance in politics of 'Events, dear boy, events.'

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