Political Qualifications

I have had to rather hurry this month’s writing because it is now over two weeks since the horrible motorway pile-up on the M5 and despite 48 hours of intensive television it is now almost forgotten about and in another week’s time it will be well gone. There must be irony there somewhere.

Whatever turns out to be the cause of this incident, and I know that sadly lives were lost, people have got to realise that this is one of those things that is called an accident; something that occurs out of the blue and with hindsight, yes hindsight, is usually avoidable. But us lesser mortals, for better or worse, cannot bring hindsight to the fore and avoid these things happening. So why do we have to have such a fanfare and blame culture. History is littered with these incidents. Why didn’t someone realise that a hundred-year-old pit heap can slide onto a school killing over a hundred children and teachers? Or that if too many people try to get to a football match at one time, 60 or 70 might die? Or even when these other football fans were enjoying the game, who was to know that a butt-end dropped under the grandstand would cause such devastation?

And there will be plenty more, usually about one every three years. Unavoidable? Undoubtedly. Predictable? I am afraid not. Is it not remarkable that more “accidents” like this don’t occur when there are millions of cars bombing along at any one time, less than 20 yards apart (if you’re lucky) at 70 mph, in all weathers, every day, often driven by people I wouldn’t let loose with my Meccano set.

So why do we have a country full of Health and Safety heads, officials and hangers-on, with little or no ability to think outside the box, because that is where these incidents happen.

If it was the bonfire that caused this incident, and I have no better jungle telegraph than anyone else, I bet the people who organised it had had to suffer doing various Risk Assessments and Health and Safety procedures and everything else that goes with it and I suppose as a result there probably wasn’t one single child that had even the slightest burn from a sparkler, while anarchy prevailed over the fence on the motorway. Of course, next year these people rather than banning bonfires will probably want it to be an offence to drive on a motorway on Bonfire Night!

Assuming that at some point one vehicle must have slowed and then everyone else chose to join in. Surely it is that first vehicle that is to blame but in English law I do believe that if you collide to the rear of someone you are at fault, or at least sort of.

If all this was not bad enough, who should pop up on my television screen but our brand new Secretary of State for Transport, the wonderful attractive Justine Greening. I thought this sort of thing, with people appearing on other people’s television shows, had gone out of fashion when Kenny Lynch retired. There she was, complete with British Standard High Viz jacket (Terry Crampton would be pleased), attempting to put the world to rights. What good could she possibly be doing. And then I realised what could she possibly do even if she was asked? She has only been Secretary of State for Transport for a few weeks. What did she do before? Good question for a pub quiz.

No wonder the country is in such a state when we have a situation where everything is run by a Jack-of-all-Trades and Master-of-None. The Transport Secretary is not alone. Her predecessor is now dealing with the Wars of Afghanistan and once this Coalition has been in play for three or four years and the musical chairs have continued, Justine Greening could easily next be in charge of the Education programme and our schools; she could easily move to Employment but, of course, if she misbehaves she could easily finish up as Northern Ireland Secretary.

I need to make it clear, I am not getting at her, in fact I think she is quite nice, but how can these people do justice when they are dabbling on the surface of what is not just a business but a whole industry. A better example of this would be the Head of Greater Manchester Police suddenly running the Birmingham Ambulance Service and the Head of the Birmingham Ambulance Service running the Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. The big difference is of course that these people are career professionals and have worked their way to a deserving position after a life-time in that one industry.

So what we need, Mr. Cameron, for our Christmas Wish List, and by the way we promise to be good, is a Secretary of State for Transport with the following CV. We will accept similar.

Always having been interested in train sets and model cars and trucks. Starting work as an Apprentice in a haulage business; working up to becoming Depot Manager and eventually Transport Manager.

More hobbies including service on the Committee of his local Motor Club; in fact competing at several events.

At the same time standing for election in the local Council, as an Independent, defeating the Lib Dem representative and the Green Party.

Move on to owning and running a haulage company, as well as getting things done on the local Council, including cutting down waste and reducing Council Tax.

Take up voluntary positions with Road Transport Associations; manage to operate a Breakdown truck for the good of his own business and witness the hardships of using such an animal. Finally, on election to Parliament as a True Blue decide to give the rest of his life to the Transport Sector, having no desire to work on fashionable environmental matters; instead, continuing to campaign for issues connected with Transport, Rail and Air travel, never losing sight of his roots by now having an attic full of model railways (for his grandchildren, of course!), as well as a self-restored vintage car.

Now, Mr. Cameron, after 20 years as an MP our man is ready. It is just up to you to find him! And by the way, his friend from school who could not give up his toy soldiers, tanks and guns, also entered Parliament. I think you may have a job for him too!

Fred Henderson
Breakdown Doctor
November, 2011