Thursday, 5 February 2009

The politics of snow

Being a simple Irish country boy*, I never fail to be amazed at how people overreact to things here in the UK.

It snowed. And people didn't go to work. And kids threw snowballs at people, including me -the cheeky scallywags (thankfully no rocks, otherwise I would have upgraded 'scallywag' to an expletive). And all of a sudden we've got a political row going on. About snow. The Daily Telegraph is moaning about schools being shut, and whinging that the UK's lack of preparedness for adverse weather is costing the economy billions. And so on. Even the Guardian's making a big deal about it.

Interestingly, in this era of triangulation, the politics of snow divide along traditional left / right lines. The Right are all complaining that years of state nannying (not that I've seen much nannying post-Thatcher) has left us without the grit (pardon the pun) to get up and go to work/school. The Left attribute the inefficiencies in clearing roads to privatisation and the sub-contracting of road-salting. Question Time was a hoot tonight because of the impassioned feelings and debate about snow (incidentally, Will Young's out-of-depthness added to the hilarity, particularly when he tried to answer questions about Carol Thatcher and gollywogs. Mind you, he's a brave man for going on that show).

I like to take a political stance on almost everything - to the point of annoying everybody - but in this instance my response is: it snowed. It was a bit of a laugh. We all built a snowman. Kids - shock! horror! - got a day off school. This kind of thing doesn't happen very often (I think the last snowfall like this in Britain was nearly 20 years ago), and it was good fun. Once again, the UK press has totally overreacted and tried to whip up anger over nothing.

There are lots of things that we could be worried about right now, but not snow. Frankly the weather was a welcome distraction from all those gloomy reports about the economy.

Here's my take on it anyway: British snow for British snowmen.

* technically I'm not from the country, I'm from Dublin - and I'm not entirely Irish either. My father comes from the south of England.


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1 comment:

  1. I don't mean to laugh when I see the pictures. Being from Winnipeg, Manitoba it looks like pleasant weather. We've had one of the most bitter winters on record and are only now getting normal weather. We too get the same kind of politically targeted whining when we have a heavy snowfall. Snow clearing is actually vital to the economic functioning of the city at those times but it inevitably ends up as a debate about whether enough snow has been cleared or we've spent too much. On the other hand people seem lot more nambi pambi than I remember they used to be. Any excuse not to go into work. We used to pride ourselves in being tough when our weather was harsh. In any case I agree with you, the folks in England should just enjoy it as we would mild snowy weather.

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