Fewer stories have confirmed the ability of our free and fearless press to do stenography well, and half-decent investigative journalism badly, than the grand schemes put forward over the past decade or so by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Driverless tube trains was reported eagerly: it was never going to happen. The Thames Estuary Airport missed the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery. And on it went.
The Garden Bridge swallowed more than £40 million in taxpayer funds before current London Mayor Sadiq Khan put the project out of its misery. All those scheme were taken on board by the press and churned over as if they had been handed down, etched on stone tablets, from Mount Sinai. None of them was ever going to work.
And so we come to the latest incarnation of Bozo pie in the sky - a bridge from south-west Scotland to Northern Ireland. On hand for the announcement was the Murdoch Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn to tell “No10 confirms for first time ‘work is underway’ on the building of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland. Scoping report being drawn up for the PM”. But Newton Dunn is not totally credulous.
This is just the Øresund bridge with new labelling
So he also noted “The biggest problem: MoD admits more than a million tonnes of UXO could have been dumped into Beaufort's Dyke over a 31 year period. 14,000 tons of phosgene gas rockets in 1945, and several thousand tonnes of conventional shells every year up to 1976”. Also the odd tonne of nuclear waste and anthrax.
That, though, did not stop the Sun telling readers “BORIS Johnson is completely serious about building a bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland to boost the union. The PM has ordered officials in Whitehall to look at the project and whether it's possible … The bridge is estimated to cost around £20billion - and engineers are examining whether the bridge between Sweden and Denmark could act as a model” (no it couldn’t).
At least the Sun admits the existence of Beaufort’s Dyke, but that is the least of the civil engineering problems that would confront such a project. We know this as Bozo floated his daft idea back in 2018, and retired engineer James Duncan dubbed it “about as feasible as building a bridge to the moon”. His reasoning was all too straightforward.
“For a great part of the 22-mile route the water is more than 1,000ft deep … It would require about 30 support towers at least 1,400ft high to carry the road deck across the deepest part and above the shipping channel … In total the bridge would require 54 towers, of heights never achieved anywhere in the world”. And there was more.
“No sane contractor or responsible government would consider building such a bridge, and because of the weather conditions it would probably have to be closed for considerable periods if it did … This proposal is just another thoughtless soundbite”. But it does give the press pack an opportunity to practice their stenography.
It was never more true that journalism is what other people do not want published - because a modicum of journalistic principle applied to this story would show that any money spent on Bozo’s latest idea is yet more money spaffed up the wall.
It’s time the press cut out the stenography and did their job. Or let someone else do it.
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