Thursday 18 April 2024

I'd like to get you on a slow road to Scotland


The other day I was driving in a city I am not allowed to mention where I drive rarely. Suddenly I was confronted with LEZ written on the road. Now as it happened, I had already checked that my car was compliant, and it turns out that despite the paint on the road we have not yet started charging people for driving naughty cars. But then I saw just ahead a sign on the road saying Bus Gate. What was I to do? I could attempt to perform a u-turn, but this would undoubtedly have been a worse offence than driving through the bus gate which may or may not have been active. So, I had to just keep calm and carry on and see if I got a fine.

Driving has become an obstacle course in Scotland and its about to get worse if we don’t get rid of the SNP. Soon Scotland intends to follow the example of Wales and introduce 20 mph zones.

So not only will we have to look out for zones where we might get a fine for having the wrong type of car or for straying into a bus lane on a corner or to let an ambulance pass or to avoid a stopped vehicle ahead of us, we will also have to hit the brakes and crawl along at 20 mph.

To drive in a city at 20 mph will be excruciating and will significantly impact journey times, but at least in a city there are alternative means of transport like busses even if no one in their right mind would ever use a bus as it involves paying lots of money to stand in the rain then stand in the rain again to get the connecting bus and the whole experience takes twice as long and is ten times as unpleasant as driving the car. But what worries me more is driving in the countryside.

Cars are not optional extras if you live in rural Scotland. They are the difference between isolation and a life worth living. There is not much point living near to a wonderful empty beach if it takes two bus journeys to get there one of which involves a trip into the nearest city, but the car journey is a mere few minutes.

For many people the car is what gets their shopping, gets them to work and allows them to see parts of Scotland that would be completely inaccessible otherwise. If you live in Edinburgh or Glasgow, you could survive well enough without a car, but not in rural Scotland.

I’m not worried so much about making short shopping trips within a small town at 20 mph. It will be a pain, but liveable. What is rapidly going to become untenable is longer journeys.

In England there are motorways and frequent bypasses, but in most of rural Scotland there is no dual carriageway and the road goes through small towns and villages. Let’s say I want to make a trip to Skye. I can get there and back in a day if I get up early. I can get to Thurso and make a circuit of Caithness and Sutherland. When I get to where I want to go, I maybe have a couple of hours to walk on a beach, have some lunch or just sit and enjoy the view. But how many small towns and villages are on the way to Skye or Thurso? How many times will I have to make sure I don’t break the preposterous new speed limit or else be fined multiple times?

Not only will such a journey take significantly longer, it will be much less pleasurable. There comes a point when it won’t be worth bothering. I think this is the idea of the Green fanatics.

One of Scotland’s greatest assets is that we have some of the best scenery in Europe. People want to come here to see it. But they have to come in a car. There is no viable alternative. If you get the train to Kyle of Lochalsh you are stuck there. You might be able to get a decent bus from Inverness to Ullapool but try exploring further. But if you make the experience of tourists travelling around Scotland less pleasant, they are less likely to return.

We need to stop this nonsense. It involves two stages. The first stage is kicking out as many SNP MPs as possible at the General Election. This may involve you voting for the Labour Party even if you don’t much like it.

The next stage will be kicking out the SNP at Holyrood. This may involve a government involving all of the Pro UK parties at least tacitly working together. At this point we need to make it clear to Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives that their remaining in power and keeping their jobs depends on them not voting for laws, rules and regulations that make life for ordinary Scots more expensive and unpleasant.

Don’t make me pay more for a bottle of wine. Don’t force me to buy a heat pump that I neither want nor can afford. Don’t make me return bottles and cans to the supermarket while making me drive at 20 mph to do so.

Devolution is making our lives worse. The politicians we elect have little of significance to do so they continually muck about with hate crime laws, misogyny laws and schemes that boss us about and make everything more expensive.

So, one last chance. If MSPs fail to make our lives easier, cheaper and better get rid of the MSPs so that their lives become worse because none of them will be earning inflated salaries for making the rest of us drive around slower than a bicycle.

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