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Road charging - congestion solving or additional tax revenue?

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My answer to Tony Blair

Our correspondent writes ...

I duly received my email from the Prime Minister this morning (21st February 2007) and this is my reply:

Dear Prime Minister

Knowing that you are not computer literate, I suspect the Downing Street spin team, probably helped by a horde of ridiculously expensive consultants, must have spent a few hours drafting the bullshit that was subsequently emailed to me and the other 1.8 million people who demonstrated their outrage against the plans to increase taxes and surveillance under the guise of reducing congestion.

Unfortunately, your assurances that the new proposals are nothing to do with "stealth taxes" or "big brother surveillance" give us no comfort at all because you and your useless New Labour cabinet colleagues have demonstrated over and over again that none of you can be trusted. The damage you have done to this country and its indigenous population is probably irreparable and you are possibly the most hated person in the country. The only problem is that you're too thick-skinned to see it.

As it is, British motorists pay the highest fuel taxes in Europe and those who drive the most miles generally pay the most taxes. But it doesn't deter them from using their cars, as you know full well, hence the underlying reason to get even more tax from them. On the other hand, there are some, like myself, for whom the motor car is the only way to occasionally escape the hell-holes you have created in our towns and cities through uncontrolled immigration and crime. If we seek out the few places that still remain unblemished by this scourge, we know we will have to spend good money on fuel and that is the price we have to pay. But if we have to spend even more, you may, in effect, be imprisoning us in the rotten environment you have given us.

You have forced more people to use cars by endowing on us a national transport system that is inefficient and far too expensive. If it was a subsidised industry still owned by the country things might be better but you have practically given it away to operators who see it only as a way to make obscene profits for themselves and their shareholders.

Congestion would not be such a big problem if people didn't have to travel so many miles to work; or drive miles to find decent schools. In respect of work, any commuting is wasted time yet the traffic flows in both directions as, for example, residents of Essex flood into Kent each morning to their workplaces, and residents of Kent travel in the opposite direction to work in Essex. If we can have schemes like job-sharing why not have job-swapping? Why not use government resources to find out how many miles would be saved if workers were employed closer to their homes? Why not encourage companies to let employees work from home instead of having to travel in to centres like London to do jobs they could do equally well from home? Most of us do understand computers and computers do make such things possible.

You mention that each new mile of motorway can cost up to 30 million but that is hardly surprising given the government's propensity to award massively overpriced contracts to its friends. If civil servants were capable of doing their jobs properly, they could force prices down to affordable levels.

Congestion on existing roads could be part eased by ridding them of the idiots who have no idea how to drive, i.e. those who hog the middle lane when the nearside lane is empty. When a three-lane highway is widened to four lanes, it merely results in two empty lanes instead of one. Patrols of motorcyclists could be employed to issue a warning to those drivers who had no sense of roadcraft or manners with the penalty of an automatic ban if they received a second warning.

As far as the satellite tracking system is concerned, we are naturally suspicious because everything New Labour does highlights its desire to invade our privacy at every conceivable opportunity. We have the threat of national ID cards to combat terrorism but the only reason we have terrorism in the first place is that you have brought it upon us by constantly interfering in the affairs of other countries, even to the point of declaring wars. And you have allowed criminals and people whose upbringing makes them little better than animals to cross our borders and settle amongst us. There is no obligation for them to even speak our language so they are largely unhindered when they plot their atrocities because we don't understand a word they say.

Instead of quoting forecast traffic figures that cannot be proved or disproved, why don't you analyse the true causes and find solutions that are not designed to give even more contracts to incompetent companies like Capita. Find out why people put up with the inconvenience of having to drive on congested roads and then you might have some clearer ideas about practical solutions that don't involve an increased financial burden or a spy system.

Alternatively, you could hold off until we see the true cost of Gordon Brown's prudence. When the truth finally comes out, we probably won't be able to afford cars so the congestion problem will be solved at a stroke.

Your sincerely

Vigilant Observer

PS: I will not be taking the opportunity to join a webchat with Stephen Ladyman. Every time he opens his mouth he talks rubbish. He is an insult to any competent driver's intelligence.

Editorial comment:

My brother also received a personal email from the Prime Minister but it was blocked by his spam filter. Makes you realise that these things must be getting really sophisticated if they can recognise bullshit!

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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