Is the private car (and its driver) really deserving of the vitriol heaped upon it by certain campaign groups?
Sadly, much of it is fuelled by self-interest. Since the advent of a Global Warming Theory that claims Man is the main culprit and its acceptance by governments seeking higher taxes and greater controls, an entire industry has arisen to capitalise on the fear it has engendered Despite the fact that GWT has been largely discredited. (Independent researchers, have now shown that global warming and cooling are a function of solar activity. NASA has recently announced that the world has actually been cooling down for the last 15 months), there are still many scientists whose jobs and grants rely on promoting the myth. They are not about to derail the gravy train by admitting they were wrong.
Many environmental campaign groups justify their existence by continuing to inflate public fears of impending climatic catastrophe. Some of these people just want to keep their jobs. Many more are well meaning folk who have been taken in by the propaganda, and a significant few are people with a wider social agenda. These are the most dangerous of all. They regard themselves as our intellectual superiors and see the green movement as a vehicle for imposing their vision of a car and (in some cases) industry free world on the rest of us. In December1998, in a brief moment of candour, the Canadian Environment Minister, Christine Stewart, commented to a Calgary newspaper "No matter if the science is all phoney, there are collateral environmental benefits. Climate change (provides) the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world" During a recent phone-in on the Money Channel, Professor David Begg, one of the government's chief transport advisors, and a virulent anti-car proponent reminded us that he wanted to change society. Has he ever wondered whether we want his changes forced upon us?
Greenpeace was recently attacked by one of its founding members (Dr Patrick Moore) as having been infiltrated by activists more intent on confrontation than environmental solutions. Transport 2000, a strongly anti-car organisation is largely funded by the public transport industry and transport unions. How can we expect them to be even handed? Transport 2000 is headed by Lyn Sloman, ex-leader of the Students' Union in the 1970s. Another determined activist who wants to alter society to suit her values. As for Reclaim the Streets, their offensive posturing and involvement in the Trafalgar Square riots earlier this year, which included the vandalising of the cenotaph and invasion of McDonald's left a foul taste in everyone's mouths.
If these groups have one thing in common apart from their hatred of the motor car, it is their dislike of the ABD. As one of the few pro-driver groups prepared to defend motorists, we expose their misleading propaganda and systematically tear apart their junk-science and phoney arguments. For this we are usually labelled, dangerous cranks, backward thinking libertarians and irresponsible. Let me state categorically that the ABD has NO political affiliation and contains members of all political viewpoints. Many members are advanced motorists, some are policemen and ex-policemen. All are dedicated believers in genuine road safety and the right of British people to choose which mode of transport is best for them. In addition we receive no funding at present from anyone but our own members and are therefore not beholden to any self-interest group. We seek to achieve our aims by reasoned argument rather than emotive scaremongering.
Having said all of the above, I would like to make it plain that the ABD is not opposed to the use of public transport and is happy to share the roads with cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders and motor-bikes. We would welcome fewer car journeys where they are not necessary. Our argument arises from the undemocratic coercion of a large part of the population of the U.K. to stop driving the cars they have worked and paid for and the singling out of motorists to bear an unfairly high proportion of the nation's tax burden.
Let the powers that be provide us with an adequate and affordable public transport system and people will willingly use it. If the government feels there is a necessity to increase our tax burden despite their assurances that they would not, then let them explain why it is needed, show how they will raise the money in a fair and open manner and then go to the country and allow us to vote for them if we wish.
The time has come to re-examine our perspectives and redress the balance. Despite all the negative propaganda aimed at private transport in recent years, the fact remains that affordable personal transport was one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. It has bestowed freedom, mobility and economic benefit to millions of people. Don't let a noisy but unrepresentative minority of control-freaks take that benefit away.
Recently in France the government has capitulated to aggressive demands from fishermen to lower the cost of diesel fuel. We would not wish to see similar scenes of public disorder in the U.K, but it is clear that unless pressure is applied to the government, they will see no reason to reduce fuel taxes by so much as a penny. Therefore we suggest a more civilised and British way of making our point. The one thing most politicians value above all else is their seat in Parliament and their party in power. So write to your MP and voice your concerns about the way drivers are trated as a cash cow by the government and ask your MP what they intend to do to stop it. If their response is not positive, tell them that you will not be voting for them at the next election.