Sunday, 11 January 2009

The Bridges of Darlington County

"Darling, fancy a bridge?"

"No, yes, maybe no, hang on, what do you think Gordon?"

I'm suspecting that Alistair Darling is not really committed to easing traffic flows across the Forth. I was surprised by his refusal to allow the Scottish Government the same flexibility in funding using public procurement as would be possible for the payment structure under PFI/PPP - the same flexibility that Gordon Brown insists is necessary for recovery from the economic depression they have created. My suspicion grew further when my memory turned up a spat in the first couple of years of Labour government (before devolution) about a skelp of land on the south shore of the Forth which the Conservative Government had bought in 1995 for the purposes of building a new bridge. I've found a wee article that refers to it that makes it clear that Darling thought that buying the land was a misuse of public funds.

He was, of course, in favour of a new bridge when he thought that it might buy a few votes, but he used to be a member of the Forthright alliance. Political expediency rather than good policy? The Chancellor? With his reputation? Surely you're not suggesting that Darling is more interested in playing politics with the Forth Crossing than in doing what's best by Scotland?

You bet your badger I am.

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