20 2 mins 15 yrs

You would need to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the own-goal our caring sharing Government has scored by inviting citizens to petition the Government at the Downing Street website! With over 1.7 MILLION people angrily demanding that Tony Blair scraps his plan to charge motorists for driving on roads, the beloved leader has been forced to show his total lack of interest in what the ordinary people of this country think by INSISTING that the pilots for “Pay-as-you-drive” go ahead!

Even the BBC has produced a poll which shows 74% of respondents opposing the Government scheme to charge us for driving. But I also notice that the BBC have rallied to the broad concept of road-charging by asking the loaded question IF people would approve of road-charging were the proceeds “re-invested in the transport network.” Yes – came the answer!

But what constitutes “re-investment”, exactly? New roads? Nope. More lanes? Not really. More Speed cameras? You betcha? More tolls, you betcha? More ways to punish us for the sin of driving? Yip!

Our Government despises motorists. It’s as simple as that. They hate the idea that you and I can choose to drive where we want, when we want, in whatever vehicle we want. All these freedoms are now under threat. We have an ideological war on SUV’s. We have a plan to impose huge surcharges on us if we drive at peak times. We have schemes in place to charge us should we enter our city centres. The motorist – not the terrorist – is Public Enemy Number One. It’s enough to drive you to distraction….

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  1. "Our Government despises motorists. It’s as simple as that. They hate the idea that you and I can choose to drive where we want, when we want, in whatever vehicle we want."

    There is no sense in this claim. All MPs and government ministers drive, as do their nearest and dearest and most of the voters.

    There is a growing problem of traffic congestion which is costing the economy more and more each year as people stuck in jams are producing nothing except exhaust fumes. This problem cannot be solved as in the past by simply increasing supply (roads) to meet demand (the ever-growing number of vehicles and journeys). So something has to be done to restrict demand. In free-market economies, price is the regulator. It’s either that or resort to outright bans and restrictions on vehicle ownership, which are not compatible with a (still just about) free society.

    Some new roads will be built, probably paid for by tolls. And public transport will have to be part of the solution as well. But some form of road pricing will also be inevitable, preferably on a localised basis, not the all-embracing monster which the government and the police would undoubtedly prefer.

  2. David I was one of the 1.7M who signed the petition. After Tony’s nice email I was in two minds about my position.He sounds so plausible and sensible.
    However my better self came to the rescue and I sent him a mail thanking him for giving us a minister who is not listening.
    As I said on another section on this topic as he sends us junk mail the least we can do is respond in kind. Can all ATW readers get typing.

    I think you go too far in saying he despises motorists its just that he doesn’t know where we are.

    Lets remember he will be long gone when this kicks in but in anyones book what a legacy. A computer system to match that at the NHS and a system to match the CSA,Home office and John Prescotts office.

    Vote for the BMP ( British Motorists Party) is what I say.

  3. Peter

    Gordon Brown and Ken Livingstone don’t have a driving licence, and I have no doubt that they are not alone amongst socialist politicians.

    Frankly, there’s something dodgy about a grown man who cannot drive. It’s just not right.

  4. Peter,

    <"which is costing the economy more and more each year as people stuck in jams are producing nothing except exhaust fumes.">

    Sounds rather like all those new, extra bureaucrats this statist government has employed, they produce nothing 100 percent of the time, not just while waiting in traffic.

    Surely it is their decision to sit in jams, no-one is compelling them to do so. As far as costing the economy is concerned. that is really a very specious argument, it is certainly costing the folk sat in the jams, but it is their cash – not some nebulous ‘economy’, don’t forget, they are buying all that petrol, and their cars still need service, which really does contribute to that ‘economy’ you mentioned.

    Do I hear you mentioning the ‘green’ issue? reducing petrol usage is rather similar to reducing tobacco usage, both are highly taxed, reduce their usage, and tax revenue is reduced, and of course, has to be replaced, hence ‘road pricing’.

    I am sure it will cost the ‘jam sitters’ even more, if road pricing is implemented in the way that government suggests.

    They just cannot bear to see cash being spent without devising ways to get their sticky mitts on it. It seems that the heavy tax extracted from motorists is just not enough, they want it all.

  5. "Sounds rather like all those new, extra bureaucrats this statist government has employed,"

    No, I was thinking about people going about their daily business:

    The self-employed builder / plumber / electrician who cannot get to the job.

    The solicitor who cannot get to the meeting with his client.

    The teacher who cannot get into school.

    The computer engineer who cannot reach his customer to repair his system.

    The ambulance which cannot reach the heart attack patient in time.

    Congestion has real costs and must be tackled.

  6. Peter,

    Just this once I have to partially agree with you.

    I think congestion is a real concern – I am just not convinced of the solutions to it.

    I am a recent partial convert to public transport – I now take the bus into work – gives me a welcome extra half hours kip and I don’t have to sit in the traffic jams on the M1.

    I think they would be better promoting public transport where it is useful – on the bulk commuter traffic flows – this is a net win for everyone.

    But – and this is the key – we are also a two car family – I have wondered at just one car, but we do need one to take account of my wifes work patterns, and the need to regularly take the children to Lisburn for sporting activities -0 and public transport doesn’t give us a full range of options here (nor do I think it ever will).

  7. Peter,

    So all those extra bureaucrats really don’t count! – at least we have agreement on something…

    When all is said and done, congestion can’t really affect people that badly, if it did they would eventually change their travel habits accordingly.

    If they changed to take advantage of empty roads, they can, and will change to avoid overcrowded roads. They might moan about having to do so, but rather they change of their own free will, than at government coercion.

  8. Ernest

    Why do you assume that people have the choice to change their travel habits? Most of us have to be at work by between 8.00 am and 9.00 am. The self-employed have to respond to their customers’ needs or go out of business. Picking their travel times is just not an option for most people.

  9. Ernest,

    "When all is said and done, congestion can’t really affect people that badly, if it did they would eventually change their travel habits accordingly."

    That is true in part but the problem starts when the people bearing the costs are not the same as the people creating them. If your car delays somebody else’s ambulance, then that is not the fault of their travel habits.

  10. Peter,

    Sorry, but that really is not true in the majority of cases, as I said earlier, people changed to take advantage when roads were empty, and they will change to avoid congestion. It may take time, but it will happen.

    Anything is preferable to more government interference. That local governments actively encourage and promote congestion, indicates that it is not the motorists best interest, they have at heart…


    Yes, emergency services are in a different category, but they alone do not justify a draconian solution. If they are such a problem, why have not our ‘caring’ politicians recognised the problem earlier, after all, congestion is hardly a new phenomenom.

  11. Ernest,

    "Yes, emergency services are in a different category, but they alone do not justify a draconian solution."

    The ambulance was just an example – there are many ways in which people have to absorb the costs created by others. My unnecessary journey in the rush hour may cost me part of a tank of petrol but prevent somebody else getting to a job. Similarly it is other people who have to deal with the pollution.

    I am not trying to justify any solution either, I am just pointing out a problem with leaving it to the market. I agree that wholesale government ‘solutions’ are not necessarily much better or may even be worse, but that does not mean that there should be no regulation nor even that use of roads should be free.

    It’s interesting also to contrast this discussion with discussions of the NHS, where ‘free at the point of use" is considered intolerable socialism by the right and almost essential by the left. When it comes to roads the position is reversed.

  12. "Sorry, but that really is not true in the majority of cases"

    So most staff can tell their employers when they will start and finish work each day? LOL!

  13. Peter,

    assuming that congestion costs the self-employed plumber for instance, I am mystified what advantage that plumber will gain when the government burdens him with a new tax. It’s swapping one theoretical cost for another real extortionate cost, with no guarantee that the congestion, hence the theoretical cost, will be better.

  14. The NHS and road policy are birds of a different feather, and are hardly comparable.

    The NHS ‘free at delivery’ ethos is admirable, but like all things ruled by political dogma, it is a crippled donkey. Now if there was a residential or contribution qualification, things might be very different.

    In the case of roads, we are already paying excessively for the privilege of driving, and further levies on any form of transport would only increase the building, and ever increasing inflationary pressure in the economy.

    The much vaunted rail system already has a congestion pricing system whereby rush hour traffic is surcharged, so that is hardly a financial alternative to driving. Buses and coaches, would no doubt be subject to the same surcharge as the car, and those costs would be passed on to the commuter.

    What is left? – not a lot! – the only fair and equitable answer is for the flexible working day and week to become more fashionable, office hours do not have to be 9 to 5, Monday to Friday do they? Retailers manage to stagger their hours, perhaps office workers and others could do the same. I wont hold my breath though.

    One thing I am sure of, is that ‘Whitehall’ will continue with the 10 to 3 slot…:-)

  15. Does Blair now get the title of, ‘Spammer Blair’?

    1.6 million pieces of absolute tosh… I wonder how many ISP’s and filters tossed his reply in the Junk folder?

  16. Richard

    The whole idea of congestion charges is that non-essential journeys are deterred and / or journeys are diverted to public transport. This has been demonstrated by central London where traffic reductions of 15% have been achieved.

    So there will be more room on the roads for the plumber to reach his customer on time. Yes, he’ll have to pay for the privelege, but his business will benefit through increased productivity.

  17. Peter,

    yeah, but that concept is a crock! That plumber will be subject to congestion nonetheless. and be paying a new tax. The idea of non-essential journeys is very dubious but no one questions it. What’s non-essential?

    My friend walking home from a lonely train station late at night? I’ll pick her up. Down the road to the supermarket? If it’s a short "non-essential" journey, it won’t be prohibitively expensive.

  18. Richard

    People decide for themselves what is a non-essential journey. Either they don’t drive or they take public transport.

    As to being a crock, traffic in central London has been reduced by the congestion charge, so I don’t see how you can claim that.

  19. Traffic has been reduced, I dare say a little, after all who wants to pay £8. Business has also been reduced, I think the evidence shows.

    However, we’re not talking about Ken’s congestion tax, we’re talking about pay per mile driving. I can’t argue with the logic that putting up the price will deter usage. If a pint of beer went up to £15, I’d drink less.

    I just don’t want to live in a state where I am constantly under surveillance and paying for the privilege.

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