15 January 2010
Why is Britain frozen up?
Why are large parts of Britain impassable due to snow and ice, with supplies of salt and grit seemingly due to run out? That question seems doubly ridiculous to anyone who remembers the winter of 1962-63 which saw most of the country under snow from December to March. The roads remained open and the trains continued to run, so what is the problem now?
Almost fifty years ago the main roads were kept open by an army of men with shovels who scooped up the snow and dumped it into lorries. The side roads remained passable because those same men shovelled up the snow and piled it on the sides of the pavements. This created a passageway down every street which vehicles could use, and piles of snow that six year old boys, such as your friendly old Exile was at the time, could use to play with on their sledges.
However, those men were employed by the direct works' department that every council had, and thanks to the Tories hardly any council has such a department, as they are forced to put out their works to private tender. Thus the army of labourers who could be redeployed from tarmacking roads to shovelling snow off them just don't exist these days.
Not only that but the councils these days operate a system of just in time which is supposed to obviate the need to keep large stockpiles on hand. The idea is that capitalism is so efficient that new supplies can be ordered at the right moment and they will arrive just as the old stock runs out. It is a wonderful idea, spoiled only by the fact that it is utter bollocks. Councils kept six days worth of salt on hand, they were offered extra stock at knock-down prices over the summer and they refused the offer. They wanted to pander to their middle class voters and keep the council taxes down by using the false economy that just in time offers, but all that they have done is to make a bad situation worse.
Corporate planning works and that is why all governments used it before 1979. It provides thousands of unskilled and semi-skilled jobs - exactly the type of bastard work that our people want to do - and it ensures that the system runs more or less smoothly. When it snow then the buses continue to run, the roads get cleared and the economy continues to function.
Why did we ever abandon it?