Martin Hannan: It’s time to go to our happy place

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Those of us who work or live in Edinburgh will have been pleasantly surprised, nay shocked, even, to find that this is the happiest city in Britain.

As revealed by the News, apparently 87 separate pieces of data prove that this is one happy place. Hooray for us!

That certainly came as a stunning reverse to the poll by the British Household Panel Survey for the Royal Geographical Society in 2008 which found that the people of Edinburgh were among the UNhappiest citizens in the UK.

For those who don’t recall that ground-breaking survey, Edinburgh finished in 282nd and last place behind the Cynon Valley in Rhondda, Wales, and the Amber Valley in North East Derbyshire, which was England’s unhappiest place.

In the space of six years it appears that Edinburgh has been transformed into an oasis of happiness in a desert of despair. My flabber is gasted by this development, not least because the surveys took place before the trams got running.

Now that the One Track Bind – the city will be paying for it for years to come – is actually in operation, there is no barrier and no limit to the happiness we will all feel. Aye, right . . .

The tramshackle apart, things actually do appear to have been getting better recently. The latest survey may have been produced by the city council, presumably in a bid to show people and businesses who are coming here that Edinburgh is a swell place to be, but that doesn’t mean the statistics lie.

We really do have more access to green areas than any other comparable city, and if you measure quality of life by access to good shops, a vibrant nightlife, reasonable sporting facilities and – whisper it! – decent public transport, then Edinburgh scores highly in all those sectors.

Okay, so there is no top flight professional football to view in the city for a year or more, and the Capital’s professional rugby club suffers by comparison with that of Glasgow, but we do have the national rugby stadium and arguably the best swimming complex in Scotland in the refurbished Commie Pool.

There are pockets of unemployment, yes, but a great many people are in work and earning good if not fantastic money.

The city’s economy went downhill after the Crash of 2008, and we are only just recovering, but apart from a lack of Grade A office space, the Capital is well placed to take advantage of the upturn in the economic fortunes of the nation.

There are still many people in the city who do not have access to jobs, decent housing, and the kind of amenities most of us take for granted. We still have some blighted areas that really need a vast overhaul to make them truly habitable, and there will need to be a big debate and some decisions taken soon about encroaching on the green belt.

I can accept, however, that this is good time to live or work in Edinburgh, and I suspect that as someone who lives just south of the city but works here, I have the best of both worlds, in that I can be at work or go to the theatre or cinema and be home in the countryside within half-an-hour. It’s no mean city, this 
Edinburgh.

Labour’s not in the poll position

Walking through Haymarket station the other day, I saw Alistair Darling and I have to say he was looking sun-tanned and healthy. Obviously his efforts for Better Together are not overly strenuous.

Perhaps the man who is described on his Wikipedia entry as an “English Labour Party politician” (sic) might want to consider this – many of his fellow Labourites are not working for his campaign.

On September 18, the vote will be about politics and democracy, and on any polling day, success is about getting your vote out. Project Fear needs Labour’s political machine to turn out No votes, and Darling and crew are failing to persuade many activists to work for a cause that lumps them in with the Tories and Lib Dems.

Salmond’s tram inquiry is likely to be derailed

I KNOW I wrote last week that I had penned my last words on the trams, but then along came the First Minister’s announcement that there would be a judge-led public inquiry into the scandal

Good SNP member that I am, I can’t help thinking the Government’s inquiry is doomed to failure because it cannot compel witnesses to appear.

Those who were involved in dreadful decision-making and who are long gone from the scene will surely absent themselves, meaning that we’ll never get to the bottom of what really happened. And with vital documents shredded, I fear the inquiry will be farcical.

Chew on this, Mr President..

So President Nobama thinks that Britain would be better if it stayed united? How can anyone take seriously the views of someone so ill-mannered that he chewed gum during a service of commemoration for the D-Day veterans?

One of the best things about living in an independent Scotland is that we won’t have to take part in illegal American wars.