View from Westminster 15th December 2017

There is nothing more Christmassy at this time of year than to see it snowing. The sight of happy children building snowmen and tobogganing conjures up a picture of just how Christmas should be. Whilst I too enjoyed tobogganing with my kids last Sunday, the true reality of the weekend’s snow was felt as I tried to head back to London first thing on Monday morning. Because, or course, the reality of snow is that it is a real pain in the neck when you need to get on with your life. With the thick end of 18 inches of snow outside my home, it took me the best part of an hour just to reach the lane at the end of the drive. The lane was just about passable and as I progressed to the main road, the gritters had been out and the road was slushy, but usable. By the time I got to the motorway, there was no traffic and the highway was absolutely fine.

 

This was the first time it has snowed properly for many years and I was pleased to see that the measures in place to make driving safe were working, broadly, well. Given we live in a mild climate, we can prepare for the worse but we clearly have to make a decision about just how much resource to put into foul winter weather resilience. Many people get in touch, suggesting that if Norway can cope, why can’t we. Of course, countries with tough climates devote a huge amount of resource to winter readiness, but they also have a law that requires all cars to be fitted with winter tyres. I’m not sure most people would welcome a law that enforces winter tyres but I am sure that had I fitted them, my trip to the end of the drive would have been far quicker.

 

One of the things that I have been struck by is just how community spirited people become with adversity. There are many measures in place to help the vulnerable with things like winter fuel payments, but it is simply not possible to ensure that absolutely everyone can be looked after, immediately, when the weather gets bad. That is why I have always been struck by just how kind people are, looking out for neighbours and making sure people are OK. It takes a bit of adversity to remind us just how kind everyone really is.