Saturday, 24 December 2011

Season of discomfort and exclusion

I will return to the political offensive at some point in the future, once the Christmas break has disappeared into the memory banks.  The inanities of what laughably passes for debate are probably best ignored for the next few days, at least while prayers for the Duke of Edinburgh are recited along with the great myths of David Cameron's recent decision that the Church of England might offer him a few votes and a moral fig-leaf while his cronies dismantle what's left of social cohesion.

The UK must be unique in believing that the only people entitled to freedom at Christmas are motorists.  Therefore the near-collapse of the Hammersmith flyover yesterday seems entirely symbolic - if your highways are built on sand and concrete then they will wither away in the face of storms and disruption.  If you live outside a few, select cities, the country shuts down at around eight o'clock on the evening of the 24th and resumes, tentatively blinkiing in the hungover light, late morning on the 27th - which, being a Bank Holiday, means that again there will be very little public transport outside the railways and large towns.

This is exclusionary, as it assumes that the motorist supreme and the rights of the Clarkson-wannabe trump those sections of the community that might not either be able to, or wish to, drive around - despite this being the season of alcohol-fuelled bonhomie that makes the wise pedestrian suspicious of even the slowest-moving vehicle.  Rather than reflecting diversity and sustainability, the myth of the Christian solidarity evinced by closing down the country is appealed to - even the most secular trade unionist discovers their inner Jesuit when it is suggested that public service is a year-round obligation.

There is no reason why urban transport should not work all through the holiday period (after all they do at Easter, which is the central Christian festival), and that by Boxing Day we should be entitled to a level of mobility similar to that of other public holidays - the traffic congestion and the number of major events planned suggests that there should be demand for travel (indeed Southern are running twelve-coach trains to Brighton and Gatwick Airport).  Perhaps this could be one of the small ideas that go into making a more palatable political manifesto, rather than the moral high ground, which might encompass a liberation the population and doing something for social interaction - rather than the current justification for closing down the country. 

Humbug, bile and righteous anger to (both) my readers.

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