Friday, 20 March 2009


So the trams' future comes down to the next few hours, the last-gasp negotiations and the desperate attempts to keep the trams from going of the rails.

I am not a fan of the trams. To me, it is just an attempt to be 'more European' rather than addressing a need or providing a service. We have a top notch bus service which will run side by side with the trams, which makes me think what's the point.

But now, the political hot cross bun that is the Edinburgh trams system is 'under threat'. At 5.30 pm, the issue could descend into a ridiculous farce, even going as far as the courts to decide the outcome of who's owed what and does what and why.

Somehow, I'm not surprised. Government contracts are cushy enough, rarely coming in on time or on budget - and I doubt the trams will be any different. But to gazump at the last minute by demanding more money is just ridiculous, but clever on the contractors' behalf.

The Government, who it must be pointed out are against these trams, cannot risk delaying for soooo long while Princes St is closed - businesses will suffer, tourism will suffer, and Scotland as a whole will suffer. They will be pilloried by all Edinburgh business if the chaos that is already effecting the city has to be extended due to a shutdown of works while court cases and independent analysts carry out their tasks. They will be hounded by opposition parties if they just stump up the cash without a fight but they'll have little option but to cave - to an extent.

When Governments are forced into an unwinnablle corner (eg Fire Services strike), the trick of Governments is to say we will offer you the carrot but only by beating you with the stick of "reform". As this reform is not a tool the SNP can use in this case, I am wondering what political fudge of language they will be forced to use to avoid using the phrase "ok gov, I'll pay, how much you wanting?". After growing up in the world of Labour, this is what I expect from politics.

Salmond and the SNP, however, are a very different kettle of fish. I hope that they hold out, go through the courts and maintain the moral high ground by not caving and making sure we pay no more than we should and also making sure that if the contractors are proven to be trying a last minute tramway robbery, fucking them for every added expense to TIEs legal bills, compensation to businesses and a big fat apology to commuters.

I no longer trust politicians to deal with these things and as this scheeme is against the wishes of the SNP, I feel extremely sorry for them as this is a complete no-win.

These companies are determined to screw more money out of the Government and if they don't get it, they may well pull out or fold.

If they do get more money, the opposition parties will blow their tops in the campest pantomime performance since Blair's Diana speech.

If they cancel the project, or put it on indefeinte hold, they'll be viewed to have wasted taxpayers' money.

The SNP have been handed a poisoned chalice, but in this world, these days, with politics and business as it is, they have no option but to take a big fucking gulp and only hope that the pain is quick and those that handed them this problem are fair in their reactions - which we all know is never going to happen.

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