A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

Get your tanks off our roads

I’ve added a link to the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s. The whole SUV/ 4×4 area is the latest example of Labour timidity in the face of Climate Change. An increase in vehicle duty of around the price of half a tank of petrol is not going to deter the selfish and irresponsible people who insist on buy and driving these things.

Sadly UK drivers are buying 4x4s at an increased rate, far more than drivers across the rest of Europe. Labour’s inaction has contributed to this sales boom. It really makes me wonder what sort of world our two-year-old son is going to grow up in.

The one small patch of sunshine in this gloom in the news in the Observer that,
“The Lib Dems will push to raise the top car tax rate from £210 to £2,000 for the most polluting vehicles, including many 4x4s and BMW 7 series models this week. The move, which would apply only to vehicles being registered for the first time, will be launched as an amendment to the finance bill, which puts the Budget into law.”

Great stuff. We also need to start taxing the existing vehicles off our roads. Perhaps with a phased increase in tax to allow people to change their car. And higher congestion charge. I mean who in their right mind would want to drive a 4×4 through London?

As for the problems of a high tax on 4x4s for farmers etc, the Lib Dems have thought of that. According to the Environmental Data Interactive News Centre,
“…the tax increase would not hit farmers and other country dwellers who may need a 4×4 for access. Not all 4x4s fall into the highest tax bracket, such as the Land Rover Freelander, which emits 205 g CO2/km.

A 50% tax reduction for rural dwellers would give rural dwellers extra protection from the effects of the tax. “This amendment is aimed at Chelsea tractors, not vital rural vehicles,” the Lib Dems said in a statement.

The new tax would only apply to new cars, that is those being registered for the first time. Data for 2005 suggest that around 8% of new cars would fall into the most polluting bracket. Models include 4x4s like the Range Rover 4.4 V8, which burns as much as 389 g CO2 /km, luxury sports cars like the Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe, but also “family” cars like the Renault Espace 2 lite.”

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3 Responses to “Get your tanks off our roads”

  • Alex Wilcock says:

    I’d thought about not replying to this, but then you attacked again on the very same issue, making attacks on 4×4 drivers so vital to the future of the world they’re the only thing you’ve blogged about for three months. Gosh. Now, when a Liberal starts using such intemperate language to demonise a group, any group, I find my eyes narrowing, and I’ve got a particular reason in this case.

    I’ve never driven, and have been associated over the years with more than a few of the sort of policies our enemies have shrieked at as ‘anti-car’. Richard does drive, however, what he affectionately calls a ‘tank’, even though it’s one of the smaller sort of 4×4 (what’s laughingly called a ‘sports’ model), and even if six days a week it just sits outside. I can still remember when he decided to buy one, and why; it was back in 1999, two days before the famous ‘Jeep scene’ in Queer As Folk, where a homophobic salesman warns Stuart not to buy one because it’s what all the gay guys are going for. I laughed like a hyena, though I didn’t manage to put Richard off, and though one of the salesmen we saw was nearly that rubbish, we didn’t ram-raid his store.

    If anyone ever wants to know the details of how a Landrover salesman firmly convinced us to buy a Vauxhall instead… Perhaps the least offensive element was that he spent almost the entire time, having asked if we were looking at another car, rubbishing the opposition instead of selling his own. We found that so off-putting that I’ve been far less keen to ‘go negative’ on other parties in election campaigns ever since. Besides, the Vauxhall salesman was very pretty, and blushed when telling us the seats went all the way back.

    Anyway, that was the ‘when’. As to the ‘why’, well, I think the main answer is pretty obvious. It looks cool. Yes, unsurprisingly it’s ‘boys’ toys’, and it’s probably the closest there is to riding a Zoid. I know in Richard’s case there was another reason, too. He’s quite a big chap, and for years he’d driven a tiny little Metro that cramped his legs and drove him, well, not exactly crazy when trapped behind the wheel and in a jam, but ill-tempered. When he got a job that would enable him to afford payments on a ‘proper’ car, he had a look at a few, but eventually decided that it might make him feel better for a few months, but then he’d only feel cramped again, and he should wait another couple of years until he could start paying for a car he’d actually be happy in. And seven years later, it’s still amazing the effect that it has being able to stretch his legs – as well as to be just that little bit higher up, so you can see more than just other angry drivers boxed in around you. So, amazingly, though we live in London, I don’t go about wildly impugning his sanity.

    Now Richard’s quite a cuddly, Liberal sort of chap, and I don’t recognise him from your savage description. He’s never disagreed with the sort of ‘anti-car’ policies I’ve pushed, and he agrees with the Lib Dem idea of slamming a £2000 VED on his sort of car and bigger – and thinks we should do it to existing drivers rather than just new ones, even though it’d drive a big hole through our budget. But if you’re right and most 4×4 drivers aren’t nice Liberals who agree with our policies, is what you say about them really going to convince them, or is it just going to put their backs up, and all the people who know them’s backs up, and are they just going to be aggressive back?

    On the other hand, we rarely go on holiday, and we’ve never gone on holiday together by plane; as far as I can remember in the eleven and a half years we’ve spent together, I don’t think either of us have ever flown except for work (with one transatlantic political exception in my case). And even for work, it’s pretty rare – the last time for me was 1998.

    Nor is he a member of one of the five companies that The Guardian identified on Tuesday as producing more pollution in Britain than all the motorists put together. Not five industries, mind – but individual companies.

    So, let me ask for an answer from you. You’ve got a huge and powerful interest group – industry. Or you’ve got a large group of the population – perhaps the majority – who go on holidays by plane. Or you’ve got a minority who are less powerful and less polluting than either, and of the three who do you bravely choose to target all your bile, all your press releases, and all your attempts to whip up hate on? Gosh. How Liberal’s that?

  • Ian Ridley says:

    Alex. If you don’t mind my asking, what Vauxhall does Richard drive?

  • Alex Wilcock says:

    Of course I don’t mind, Ian – it’s a Vauxhall Frontera, and there is only one remotely green thing about it (which, I’m afraid, is the colour).

    Having a look at your link to the people who wouldn’t like it, it’s not on the list but should be, albeit close to the bottom: my suspicion is that it’d be pretty much the same as a Landrover Freelander, as that was the similarly-sized, similarly-priced alternative we looked at. It depends on whether the one listed is the ‘sports’ or the larger ‘family’ model… It’s not made clear, but as there are only the two us, though neither of us are remotely sporty, the sports one is the one we have.

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