FROM a Scottish point of view, the most puzzling aspect of George Galloway’s appearance in Washington this week was Bob Wylie.
We first caught sight of the grinning and gangling BBC Scotland reporter at Galloway’s side in Dulles airport. Then, after the MP’s performance in front of the US Senate’s sub-committee, there was Wylie again, popping up to tell us how, in his considered opinion, he thought it had all gone.
Which was pretty well, actually. Oh, there may be a few people yet to be impressed by Galloway’s bluster, but on the whole, Wylie assured us, Washington was knocked out. The MP for Bethnal Green and Bow had faced down American accusations that he’d profited from Saddam Hussein’s illegal oil deals and, what’s more, he’d denounced the US invasion of Iraq.
Galloway, reported Wylie, was the "Braveheart" on Capitol Hill. Braveheart? Come off it. Even Gorgeous George’s most ardent supporters in Britain would shrink from romanticising him in this way. But not the gushing Wylie.
His presence in Washington begs two questions: why did BBC Scotland feel it needed to send its own man when (a) it is currently implementing drastic cost cuts and (b) the BBC’s Washington correspondent, Clive Myrie, was already there and more than up to the job?
Also, if BBC Scotland really, really had to send, why did it have to be Wylie, whose friendship with Galloway goes back years and who, as the Diary pointed out yesterday, received an acknowledgement in Galloway’s autobiography?
Wylie is not an expert on Iraq or on American politics. And in this case, he was clearly not impartial, and neither was BBC Scotland. Shame on them.
NEXT week is the national Walk to School Week, which often translates into Open Season on School Run Mums Week.
With perfect timing, Greenpeace loonies stormed a Range Rover factory in Solihull on Monday to draw attention to "gas-guzzling" 4x4s and the "climate criminals" who drive them. In particular, the activists targeted "mums and sometimes dads on the school run in towns and cities across the UK", and said parents are "leaving a legacy of climate change". As usual, Greenpeace gets its facts wrong - one cycle of a dishwasher releases more than double the carbon-dioxide emissions of a short drive in a Range Rover.
In global terms, only 2.5 per cent of is created by mankind, and road transport accounts for only 5 to 10 per cent of that. The toxicity of car fumes, even 4x4 fumes, is vastly exaggerated, as is man’s effect on his environment.
The Walk to School initiative aims to encourage children to exercise, which is commendable, but it should not be hijacked by do-gooder Greens as a means of attacking mothers who prefer to drive. In my experience, the mothers (or fathers) most likely to drive their children to school are the ones who don’t live within walking distance and who work. It’s a pity but they do not have time for leisurely strolls in the morning.
Many also have concerns about that small but lethal proportion of the population who drive without due care and attention. As statistics show, these tend not to be mothers on the school run but young men doing 85mph in 30mph zones under the influence of drink or drugs.
INSTEAD of addressing the problem of boy racers and other road-hog pond life, Edinburgh Council, which is behind the capital’s Walk to School Week, seems hell-bent on turning residential roads into "fast corridors" and retail centres into racetracks.
It has just unveiled a new speedway in the centre of town. It is called Princes Street, and since the council introduced its car ban on westbound traffic - eastbound traffic was banned in 1996 - bus drivers are apparently using the stretch to make up time lost on more congested routes.
Although police say anyone "behaving recklessly" will be dealt with, this does not appear to apply to bus drivers, many of whom have been behaving recklessly for years.
The council’s transport chief, Andrew Burns, said his changes would prove very popular in six months’ time. I predict that they won’t, and nor will he. There are council elections in 2007. The party that decides to fight Labour on a pro-motorist, pro-resident transport ticket will show Burns just how unpopular he and his policies are.