Sometimes you get one of those little periods where you feel that everything in the world is – well, not quite as it should be, but more or less as you might expect. Where dogs bite men and not vice versa, and everything in the news makes sense.
This, I feel, is one of those times. England have suffered a humiliating batting collapse in Jamaica, and somehow it feels comforting after a period of relative success. A bunch of middle-aged blokes at the Bafta have given an acting award to Kate Winslet’s naked arse, and that also makes sense, at least compared to some Bafta picks down the years. And then you’ve got that classic dog-bites-man standby, Sammy Wilson talking cobblers.
Last Friday, Sammy streaked into the headlines with this gem:
Angry teachers today hit back after Environment Minister Sammy Wilson accused schools of “mollycoddling” children after many closed due to the snow.
More than 30 schools closed their doors yesterday following heavy snowfall and another 15-20 have followed suit today, citing health and safety reasons for the decision.
Mr Wilson, a former teacher himself and the minister with responsibility for promoting road safety, said many people used the weather as an excuse to take the day off.
“Personally, I think it’s a lot of nonsense. It’s no more dangerous to go out in the snow than it is to go out in very wet weather, windy weather or in conditions of poor visibility like mist or fog,” he said.
“I know there are a lot of health and safety nuts out there who are trying to make people take no risks at all. If they had their way, we would all sit in the house all day tied to a chair and never move.”
This is straight out of one of those Richard Littlejohn columns in the Daily Mail about how “decent folk can’t hang paedo’s cos of elf ‘n’ safety”. But as a former teacher, Sammy, one would think, would be aware of the possibility of schools being sued the moment a child slips on some ice and splits its head open. This, I think is more plausible than a reference to unnamed “health and safety nuts” who, if they even exist, are under his aegis at the Roads Service – you know, the guys who advise against unnecessary journeys in extreme weather, only to find their own minister contradicting them. Still, anything for a cheap headline.
Then today Ulster’s answer to Jeremy Clarkson was back with this:
Environment Minister Sammy Wilson has banned government television adverts in Northern Ireland warning of the effects of climate change, it emerged today.
The DUP man said he was not prepared to allow “insidious New Labour propaganda” about the impact of climate change which would have been screened on UTV.
These were, as far as can be seen, ads promoting energy efficiency, something the Stormont Executive (and the DUP) are theoretically all in favour of. Sammy is, of course, on record as saying that man-made climate change is a big giant hoax, which is at least a distinctive position for an environment minister. Taken together with his culture of fear stuff, I wonder if Sammy spent too much of his youth reading Living Marxism. Or, perhaps more likely, as a middle-aged man he’s just spent too much time chilling out in front of Top Gear.
Anyway, I fear Sammy may be making trouble for himself with his claims that the climate change we’re currently experiencing is just a manifestation of long-term climatic cycles that work themselves out over millions of years. This won’t endear him to the Young Earth creationists in the DUP, who know perfectly well that the world is only 6000 years old. Memo to Sammy: if you’re going to do pseudo-science, it’s safer to go with the biblical option.