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Stuck in Edinburgh

Brian Taylor | 16:36 UK time, Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Politics can sometimes seem remote; divorced from popular concerns.

That is emphatically not the case with the current controversy over the weather.

Everybody has a story to tell, including MSPs. Labour's Charlie Gordon disclosed that he had, personally, been marooned by the snow. For two nights. In Edinburgh.

Which was, he said, a cause of some grief "for a dyed in the wool Glaswegian."

Worse, he had been obliged to subsist "in the clothes I stood up in." Enough, enough.

Perhaps it was personal experiences like this, perhaps it was a reflection of public fury but the session was notably tetchy in points.

Mr Gordon argued with the witnesses and with the convener, Patrick Harvie, who indicated fairly plainly that he had heard more than enough from his Glaswegian colleague.

Settling down

Even with a change of suit.

Jackson Carlaw of the Tories also seemed to dislike the tone of the exchanges - and made his feelings evident.

But things settled down in time for John Swinney to assume his most reassuring, bank managerial demeanour. (Actually, strike that: banks aren't what they were. Fill in your own reassuring profession.)

Mr Swinney apologised - again. He stressed - again - that the snow had been much worse than forecast.

Then he outlined a six-point action plan which was being worked up by the new Transport Minister Keith Brown.

(Mr Brown wasn't in post last week so didn't have to defend the government before the committee.)

It was a confident, competent performance by Mr Swinney.

Next storm

He stayed calm - only becoming mildly animated when suggesting, ever so gently, that folk (especially folk driving HGVs) might care to pay a little more heed to warnings that the roads were tricky.

As far as it went, it was fine. Questions were asked. Answers were given. The formalities were observed.

But this was, quite literally, the calm before the next storm.

Scotland's revised preparations will be tested not in committee, but on the roads and rails.


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