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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,975

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Scotland: Queensferry Crossing across the Firth of Forth opens to traffic

Britain’s newest road bridge, suspended by 23,000 miles of cables over the Firth of Forth, has opened with motorists facing long delays.

At 1.6 miles (2.7km), the Queensferry Crossing is the longest bridge of its type in the world and, at 210m (689ft) high, Britain’s tallest, say its designers. For motorists, only one thing will matter: the new crossing promises a queue-free drive home at motorway speeds.

The first cars drove over the bridge shortly before 2am on Wednesday after traffic was diverted from the Forth Road Bridge. A long procession followed police vehicles, with many honking their horns and blowing whistles as they crossed the bridge.

However, by rush-hour drivers were facing long delays in both directions. It is thought people simply wanting to experience the crossing for the first time were exacerbating the problem, with Traffic Scotland tweeting: “This is not just commuters heading for work” and “LOTS of you eager to cross & 40mph speed limit in place.”


This story's pretty typical of today's coverage of the opening to traffic of the Scottish Government's new, long-awaited Queensferry Crossing, near Edinburgh, built to relieve traffic stress on the old Forth Road Bridge which has been beset by age- and corosion-related problems for years.

The initial delays were predictable, with many sightseers joining the morning rush hour. Read down any of the media reports, and they may mention the scale of the bridge, its status as the longest bridge of its type - three-tower, cable-stayed - in the world, the UK's highest bridge, and the 23,000 miles of cable that make up its structure. It's a year late in opening and came in £245 million under budget.

Few of the articles will delve into the history of the project, which saw a Labour government refuse to fund it, and its initial cancellation amid cross-party opposition to it before the SNP took power at Holyrood and finally agreed that the Scottish Government would fund it itself and gave the go-ahead for construction to start six years ago.

It was dismissed at the time and in recent years by the usual suspects as an SNP "vanity project" - and much the same voices then pilloried the Scottish Government for not opening it sooner last year, when a serious structural problem closed the Forth Road Bridge for repairs over a prolonged period, leading to lengthy detours and chaos.

Now the likes of Gordon Brown are queuing up to laud it and take credit for it.

Whatever, it's a stunning example of modern architecture and engineering, already has iconic status, and is probably destined to be the most-photographed bridge in the UK, if not the world. Its opening means the Firth of Forth is spanned by three bridges built in successive centuries: the Forth Rail Bridge, the Forth Road Bridge and now the Queensferry Crossing.

{Scottish Tory Leader} Davidson's mask slips over rogue Tories

Type the words “Ruth Davidson detoxified the Tories” into Google and you get 640,000 hits. This will come as little surprise, I suspect, to anyone who lives here and has endured the right-wing columnists’ love-in with the Scottish party leader over the last few years. Even when the Orange Order was batting its eyelids at her earlier this year, Davidson was touted as the purveyor of a more compassionate Conservatism, a moderating influence on her Westminster counterparts and the one figure capable of rehabilitating the tarnished brand north of the border.

Up to a point those commentators were right; the Scottish Tories did well in the local and general elections, gaining seats in both (though arguably this had more to do with Davidson’s decision to campaign on a No to a Second Indy Ref platform than her personal magnetism). But success can be a double-edged sword and so it has proved for Davidson. Unfortunately, the new intake of Conservative representatives included some loose cannons; and when I say loose cannons, I mean bigots.

Despite its putative transformation, the Scottish party’s toxicity level is once again soaring. Last week, two Stirling councillors, Robert Davies and Alastair Majury, suspended for posting racist and sectarian tweets, were reinstated on the basis of an apology so “unreserved” no-one outside the party was allowed to hear it.

Then – while that debacle was running its course – Moray MP Douglas Ross, a man already under fire for refusing to give up his job as a referee, told an online interviewer that, were he to be appointed Prime Minister for a day, his Number One priority would be tougher action against gypsies and travellers: two of the most marginalised groups in the country.


Finally, evidence of the Scottish Tories' new intake's toxicity reaches such levels that the MSM is distracted from complaining about the online antics of "cybernats" and the shine is quickly coming off the party's darling, touted by some as a future Scottish first minister, if not a UK prime minister.

Even so, this article merely scratches the surface of a party and leader that scrabbled together a tally of Scottish seats at the last UK election on the back of pandering to the sectarian Unionist fringe, aided and abetted by Scottish Labour.

MP Swinson under fire over 'vanishing' election costs

Jo Swinson, the deputy UK leader of the Liberal Democrats, is facing “serious questions” over her election expenses after thousands of pounds were left off her official declaration.

The East Dunbartonshire MP claimed her spending scraped in £210 below the legal limit in the party’s top Scottish target - but only after almost £7000 of costs were disregarded.

Despite the seat’s importance to the LibDems, the former minister said £2700 of leaflets and other material bought by the party went undelivered and so didn’t count toward her total.

A further £4,040 of costs were omitted on the basis it was “national” spending promoting the LibDems in general, rather than Ms Swinson as the local candidate.


Two aspects to this story: the (as far as I know unprecedented) idea that candidates can discount election spending if it's wasted (undelivered leaflets), and the conflating of national versus local spending (so familiar from the investigations of the Tory battlebus debacle after the previous general election).

And Swinson's not the only one, in Scotland alone, being investigated:

Christine Jardine: Second LibDem MP in row over 'vanishing' election expenses


Christine Jardine, who gained Edinburgh West in one of the toughest contests in the country, disregarded thousands of pounds of costs on her official candidate declaration.

Her party also sent local voters personalised mail which was not accounted for in her filing.

Despite the LibDems’ saturation campaign in Edinburgh West, with households inundated with leaflets, Ms Jardine claimed she ultimately spent less than her SNP rival.

This relied on her saying a third of her bill for election material was “national” spending, on the grounds it promoted the LibDems in general, rather than her as the local candidate.

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