Thursday 7 January 2010

Losing touch with reality

I've spent most of the last two days looning around in the snow with my children. No school for them. It has been great. Bumped into all sorts of friends, old and new as our kids hurtled down the various slopes of Mill Hill on a variety of sledges, toboggans, trays, inflatables, estate agents signs .....

Each evening I've gone home and put on the news. There are only two stories. The weather and a couple of MP's saying Gordon Brown should go. As I watched I realised that the current story about these MP's sums up all that is wrong with politics in the UK. As I chatted to friends today, did anyone at all mention Gordon Browns problems with his MP's? Not a sausage. Did they mention the travel chaos caused by lack of planning for bad weather? You bet, that's all they wanted to talk about. Which story did David Camerons Conservative Party think warranted rushing out a billboard poster for? My guess is that every Tory politico in the land looked at the poster and went "Marvellous, we're on to a winner here". It is also my guess that every normal voter in the country hadn't got a clue what it was all about. I suspect that if you showed the poster to most people in my local, they'd probably think it was a bad picture of Dierdre Barlow and that she was hooking up with a new husband - Is  Geoff Hoon the new Ken Barlow? Doubtless millions of Corrie fans will be tuning in tonight to be disappointed that this plot line isn't happening.

It was summed up for me during a conversation with a friend, Gary the Cabbie, who told me of when he had John Prescott in his cab. Prescott asked what he thought of the then new bus & taxi lane on the M4. Gary replied that it didn't make much difference to him. He said that Prescott should concentrate on things like banning large lorries delivering during rush hour and listed a whole lot of other enhancements around London which would make a huge difference. John Prescotts reply? "What do you know about transport?". Gary retorted "We'll I've only spent the last 30 years driving around London". Prescott replied "People like you never see the big picture".

The trouble is that the big picture is really a montage of small pictures. The likes of Prescott want a simplistic broad brush, but in reality it's attention to detail which makes all of the difference. David Cameron had the choice yesterday on how to spend his advertising budget. Should he impress all his mates with a poster which they'd find rather clever, or should he vow to fix the effects of bad weather on the economy under a Tory Government?

He chose the easy option. The one his mates thought was clever. You may well ask, how on earth do you fix transport disruption caused by snow? Here's my suggestion. You find out which local authority dealt with it best. You then get all of the other authorities to learn the lessons which that authority has taken on board. Train companies. You institute massive fines for disruption caused by bad weather. In this day and age, the Council must know where it's teams have gritted. Put this information on-line. Let's see in real time how Barnet is doing compared to Harrow and Brent? They must have the information, so why not share it with the public. The Council spent £100,000 on putting you tube videos on the Internet. Why can't they put useful info, like when your road will be gritted next up?

I'll tell you why, because they've lost touch with reality.

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