Here’s a strange thing about the bridge that’ll get me pelters from all sides. [Note for non-Scottish readers: the Queensferry Crossing is a new road bridge across the Firth of Forth]
I welcome the work that’s being done on it and will have to be done on it probably over the next year – not the five days that transport Humza Yousaf claimed erroneously in his tweet (above).
It was a massive engineering project and a spectacular design to add to its two equally impressive neighbours. There may have been political pressure to get it opened as soon as possible and like many I regret that its design, construction and the materials it was built of were almost entirely sourced abroad. I don’t even like the fact that as soon as it’s built it has to be lit up in the colours of the saltire to prove its oor bridge built by oor SNP. And there may yet be unpalatable facts to emerge about some of the issues around the present and future lane restrictions (even temporary closures?).
But it is a darned great complex civil engineering project and there are bound to be teething troubles that need to be sorted out.
No, the issue that well and truly gets my goat is the SNP’s obfuscation on the subject, exemplified by Mr Yousaf’s tweet. It’s a classic of its kind.
- It uses the phrase ‘planned milestone’ to hide the fact that what has happened just now was not planned (if it had been it would have been announced well in advance).
- It tries to convert what is clearly a problem into a positive – the raising of the speed limit on the bridge (a limit it was supposed to have been designed to in the first place).
- It mentions only the five days closure but not any longer term works (see the ‘next year’ link above).
- And of course it gets ‘weather permitting’ in as an excuse, just in case.
The Transport Scotland tweet he appends is not much better, either in itself or in the information on their web site it links to. But I imagine they were under some political pressure to present this as a positive improvement, not a problem.
There is a fundamental dishonesty in this that the SNP get themselves trapped into time and again. Things aren’t just done, they have to be shown as triumphs for the party and the nation, achieved in spite of Westminster and something that none of the unionist parties would have bothered with (in the case of the bridge a nationalist told me precisely that online). The problem is that triumphs don’t always emerge from political decisions and then an excuse has to found, blame assigned (you can guess where) or, in this case, an obfuscation perpetrated.
The minister concerned could be seen as having a track record in this sort of thing. Readers with a long memory may recall his missing diaries from a Middle East trip when he held the egregious ‘external affairs’ portfolio. And of course he had a senior moment when he forgot to ensure that he was insured to drive someone’s car. You’ll observe incidentally that the errant diaries were only found/released following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. That itself is all of a pattern, with a group of journalists recently expressing concern about how the Scottish government handle FOI requests. Obfuscation yet again.
How much better it would be if our government felt they could be honest about the risk inherent in large projects and spell those out in advance. Who knows, they might even save themselves some turmoil and blunt some of the criticism that comes their way. But after eleven years in government, it’s clearly too late to teach the old nationalist dog new tricks.
A brooding Queensferry Crossing on its opening weekend