Imagine a time, not too far in the future. The government of the day has won an election with the promise that it will not raise direct taxes. However, their ambitious political programme calls for a significant increase in spending. Encouraged by public fears of global warming and knowing that household central heating accounts for twice the carbon dioxide emissions produced by petrol engines, the Chancellor introduces a household fuel tax escalator designed to boost the price of natural gas and electricity fourfold in the next ten years. Seeking advice only from experts ideologically committed to forcing people to heat their homes less and dismissing the complaints of freezing home-owners as selfish and anti-social, the government arrogantly presses ahead. When challenged in parliament about the plight of those who can no longer keep themselves warm, the Home Secretary declares that they should employ alternative, sustainable methods, such as using a bicycle to generate electricity, or building their own windmill. At some unspecified point in the future, he adds, the government will provide everyone with wonderful solar panels that will solve the energy problem forever. In the meantime householders should simply shut up and pay up. After all, someone has to foot the bill for the Government's spending plans and it has been decided that householders should bear the extra burden.
Now, I freely admit that the above scenario is preposterous. Who could believe that in a democratic country like ours, a government would attack a significant majority of its people and penalise them for doing something as essential as heating their homes. Yet it is not at all dissimilar to what has happened to motorists in recent years. Some may argue that driving a car is not as important as household heating, but there are millions of motorists in this country who would disagree. For many people today, a car is as much an essential part of their lives as their central heating system. Yet they are being systematically punished by the government for doing something that they must. If they dare to complain they are accused of being selfish.
The government promises excellent public transport in the future but expects us to give up our cars now or pay the consequences. Not only are fuel duties sky high, but insurance premiums are set to rise by up to 30% next year because the National Health service has been told to claim against the cost of car related accidents. (Is a driver injured in an accident more culpable than a man who falls off a ladder in his home?) Add to these costs the proposed congestion charges to be levied in cities, road tolls and parking place taxes and it is clear that life for drivers is being made intolerable. O f course, if you live in Islington, close to London's amenities, have a limousine at your disposal and don't believe that speed limits or bus lanes apply to you, things may not seem so bad.
Make no mistake, this is not a party political issue. It was the previous Conservative administration that introduced the fuel tax escalator. All political parties have long considered the motorist fair game. Despite recent conciliatory noises from Tory spokesmen, there has been no commitment to lowering the tax on fuel. Worse still, we are currently faced with an arrogant, cabinet of control freaks who hide their stealth tax behind a green smokescreen. Guided by advisors who are more concerned with social engineering (using drivers as their guinea pigs) and spurred on by zealous anti-car campaigners who will never be satisfied until private transport is severely restricted, the Government have declared war on drivers.
What would persuade a Government that such a policy could gain favour? Particularly one as popularity conscious as this one. The answer is very simple. The anti-car lobby is noisy, popular with the Islington set and despite their small numbers, well organised. Motorists on the other hand have remained silent and docile. They complain to one another but have not formed any organised opposition to the policies that are making their cars so needlessly expensive to run. Is it any wonder that Tony Blair and his cronies think we don't mind? Perhaps the greatest irony of this policy is that the people who are most affected are the lowest paid, the elderly and the disabled. Exactly the elements in society that Labour traditionally support.
Few motorists would doubt that fuel taxes are far too high. The ABD has launched a campaign to get these taxes reduced. Having considered many options we have concluded that the best way to convince politicians that motorists have had enough is to strike where it hurts them the most, in the ballot box. We have produced a form which pledges that the signatory will not vote for any politician or party that supports high fuel taxes. This could be a member of any party both national or local. The form also demands a steady, staged reduction in fuel taxes over the next few years and also calls upon retailers to show the price of fuel and the tax separately on the forecourt so that members of the public can see for themselves where their money is going.
There are approximately 30,000,000 motorists in the U.K. Individually, we are helpless against the insatiable demands of the Chancellor and his advisors. Together we could alter the course of motoring policy in this country for good. If you are fed up with being the Government's cash-cow please contact your local and national politicians and ask their views on motoring taxes. If you are not satisfied with the reply, tell them that you will not support them at the next election. At the present moment it is the anti-car campaigners that have the ear of the Government. If you don't want them to have their way at your expense, stand up and fight back now.