Magazine article The Spectator

Who Decided That All Motorists Were Criminals?

Magazine article The Spectator

Who Decided That All Motorists Were Criminals?

Article excerpt

Do others like me wake every day angry that we are unwilling members of a persecuted majority? At the risk of becoming a serial whiner, it seems to me that the unholy trinity of the Treasury, local authorities and the police forces are intent on intimidating and fleecing anybody who has the effrontery to own and drive a car. So vindictive and petty are some of the laws framed specifically against motorists that I am resigned to the fact that any time now the Ministry of Transport will be renamed the Ministry of Fear.

I learned to drive during army service in 1943, passing my test on a Bedford three-ton truck with a beast of a clutch, and have been driving a variety of cars, large and small, ever since with, happily, a totally clean licence.

So why am I now so fearful whenever I get behind a steering wheel? My present car is eight years old and I have just renewed the licence for £220 (bumped up another fiver from last year). Today I learned that next year a car of this vintage will be taxed at £440 -- yet another piece of duplicity from the Treasury, who hid this new stealth tax in the fine print of the last Finance Act. Thus when I and many others wish to exchange our old but roadworthy cars for new models we will be made victims of negative equity, the cars worth less than the tax disc.

I recall swooning many years ago when we woke to the realisation that the price of a gallon of petrol had risen to £1, even though in that distant time there was somebody on the forecourt to insert the nozzle and wash our windscreens with a smile. Now we do all the work ourselves and are fleeced for £1.18.9 a litre of petrol (even more for diesel) but, unlike the French, are too craven to take to the barricades in protest. Since 95 per cent of everything we buy in the supermarkets is transported by road, it does not need a Senior Wrangler to work out that any increase in the price of petrol and diesel is inevitably passed on in the cost of food and other essentials. If the exorbitant tax and VAT were slashed, household food bills could be dramatically reduced overnight.

But will dear listening Gordon grasp that nettle?

Motorists have been relentlessly brainwashed by the eco-lobby to believe that they are major contributors to global warming, yet since China and India are never likely to change their polluting ways, legislating a few hundred 4x4s off the King's Road, Chelsea, sadly ain't going to save a single polar bear.

Taken to its logical conclusion, cars should be banned, like cigarettes, in public places, but of course that would mean the Treasury maw would be deprived of the enormous revenues and unable to pay for the 2012 Olympics overspend, although 3,500 VIP limousines have been given the green light to sashay down to the East End on a special prole-free highway exactly as the Cold War Kremlin hierarchy used to travel in Moscow.

For the average citizen, public transport is so chancy and expensive that, even with petrol costing £5 a gallon, it is still cheaper for many of us to take to the roads rather than the often unreliable, sometimes unspeakably filthy trains, especially since, despite holding a valid and costly season ticket and being unable to find a seat, you can be fined for daring to stand in a first-class corridor. …

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