Thursday, 15 April 2010

Ken Clarke, the volcano blockade runner

Correction : Ken Clarke is now rushing north on a train - not a helicopter. There never was a helicopter, no such helicopter ever existed, and if it did exist...I think this means the Tories couldn't find a helicopter at short notice but I'm happy for the clarification of travel arrangements.

A bit spooky and quiet this morning, on the airwaves as well as in the air.

In politics everyone is in a hiatus, or a train heading to Manchester, just waiting for the TV debate tonight while miles away the Iceland volcano has grounded all air traffic in the UK.

Ironically, everyone I phone across Scotland and the UK is reporting what a wonderful, clear, blue sky day it is. There's a great live map of UK air traffic here that shows the empty skies above Britain.

Vince Cable and Bob Ainsworth have cancelled trips to Scotland today but the Tories, I hear are hiring a helicopter to take Ken Clarke north, flying low like some kind of crazed Colonel Kilgore in Hush Puppies (What happened to the Quattro?)
(I've since been corrected Colonel Ken has commandeered a train to take him north)

The big three party leaders are all in a holding pattern around Manchester, doing a few visits before final rehersals for the debate.

If you really need a political fix there's First Minister's Questions in the Scottish parliament, which is bound to have an electoral tinge.

There's a weekly Scottish take on the Sun's daily YouGov poll, small sample buried in the Scottish editions. The poll has Labour up five points to 40% on last week, SNP down three points to 21%, Lib Dems up one to 18% and the Tories crashing down four points to 17%.

As I said, small sample but small comfort for the Conservatives in particular with signs of the Quattro mis-firing at the prospect of having to cough £1.30 a litre for petrol.

Meanwhile, back in Iceland, people have a few more problems than grounded flights. Alda who blogs the excellent Iceland Weather Report - rarely to do with weather always to do with economic meltdown - gives this account of the latest eruption this morning.

Here's an extract: "So yeah, the new eruption is between 10 and 30 times stronger than the one we’ve had over the last three weeks. It started beneath the ice cap so caused a glacial surge [or j√∂kulhlaup as it's called in Icelandic, when large amounts of meltwater are released at the same time -- as someone mentioned in the comments to last post].

Around 700 people were evacuated from their homes last night and by midday the flood was huge. It washed out one bridge and the Ring Road was broken to allow the water to flow through — i.e. they purposely dug through it in two separate places to allow the water to flow through to the sea and so it doesn’t wash out more bridges.

Fortunately barriers that exist in the area have managed to protect the farms in the area — none of those have broken. How long this will last is still not known — it could be days or weeks or months. They are predicting that there will be surges of water coming through every now and again, so I guess it remains to be seen what sorts of precautions they will take."

As usual, it sounds like it's all happening in Iceland.

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