Politics; “the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies” – Groucho Marx.
Here at PetrolPrices, we try and stay clear of politics, but very occasionally we need to dare to tread that path, to have a say, to inform you, and to take a stand. From a personal point of view, I’m very apolitical, certainly in a professional capacity, but occasionally, I read something that I feel should be discussed.
With talk such as “ownership models”, “the relentless subjugation of the public realm to the exigencies of the private motor car”, “rapid de-carbonisation” and “isolate and atomise society” being used to describe owning a car, I for one feel that there are some pretty powerful words being used, all with the intent of further demonising the ‘motor car’, you could even perhaps call it propaganda, for that is really what it is.
But they’ve saved the most powerful sentence until last – “inside armoured shells that protect those inside by endangering everyone else”.
Away with all cars
Would you be overly surprised if I told you that this came from a radical left-wing pro-Corbyn supporting think tank? That the white paper (unashamedly called ‘Away with All Cars’) has been written in conjunction with Greenpeace UK and a group called ‘Common Wealth’.
Before you accuse me of being a climate-change denier, you should understand that the group want to ban all cars; fossil-fuelled, EVs, PHEVs … ALL privately owned vehicles. The reasons given are ‘emissions’ and ‘air pollution’. But it begs the questions; do we all just accept being herded on to mass transit solutions? Like some form of communist state?
If this was a regular government ‘think’ tank, we’d be calling it nonsense, passing it off as some sort of buffoonery, and complaining that it’s the motorist being punished again, but it isn’t, the whole tone of the white paper, its sponsors and their values are driven by the radical left-wing; they’re sharing their political values, it isn’t about the motor car, it’s about a political ideology.
The impact of road pollution
No one is denying, including myself that road pollution is a massive killer. The statistics are very clear, according to COMEAP, road pollution leads to between 28,000-36,000 premature deaths a year. London is one of the worst cities in the world for deaths caused by road pollution.
The Mayor of London is trying to discourage drivers from bringing in high polluting vehicles and encouraging lower emission petrol and diesels that meet tough EU standards, EV or hybrid cars into the new ULEZ zone. This is a sensible and pragmatic approach. But this think tank just wants to ban vehicle ownership outright, is there is something bigger at play beyond zero carbon emissions?
The banning of cars
We’ve become used to being the scapegoat for all things climate related, it seems that the answer to any questions relating to air pollution end with ‘make the (private) motorist pay’. Just last year, the Government came under attack for their policy with the ministerial cars – from the 84 vehicles run by the Government Car Service, there are just six electric cars and one hydrogen fuel powered vehicle in the fleet.
The Prime Minister’s runaround is a supercharged 5.0 litre V8 Jaguar, and that’s followed around by a fleet of Land Rovers. None of those shout ‘economical’ as they drive past. Isn’t it time that our ‘leaders’ started doing just that, and lead by example?
Currently, electric buses in London account for just 2.6% of Transport for London’s fleet, and Sadiq Khan has been accused of misleading the public with some of his claims; “London will soon have the largest double-decker electric bus fleet in Europe” is a prime example.
Technically, what he said wasn’t wrong, but the reality of the situation is that Dublin is the only other city in Western Europe that uses double-decker buses in significant numbers.
Plans are already in place for the first car-free day to be held in London, and the transport research manager for the Centre for London has already stated that we need to think about ‘locking in car-free lifestyles for good’.
When all’s said and done, the reality of banning privately owned cars, or banning them from London permanently is quite frankly, ridiculous. While it could be argued that there are many other great cities in the UK, it’s London that’s the hub of the country, and with no reliable means of cheap transportation available to those that are less fortunate, the city will grind to a halt.
We’re already seeing on a smaller scale, that when a city makes life difficult for a motorist, they vote with their wheels and park, shop or eat out of town. It’s unlikely that London will ever become a ghost town, but financial losses only need to be small for someone to take issue.
And that’s why the ‘Away with All Cars’ white paper is a non-event, with nothing more substantial behind it than pushing a weak political agenda. With that said, similar to what we see with certain other world leaders, quite often the rhetoric isn’t designed to convert new people, rather than reinforce the message to the already converted, you could even say, to radicalise them.
What do you think to the plans to ban all private owned cars by 2030? Is it as ridiculous as it sounds? Or should we sit up and take notice? Let us know in the comments.