A FAIR DEAL FOR THE MOTORIST
FAIR FUEL UK: IS THERE
FRONT MEN LESS FORTHCOMING ABOUT THEIR
PLAN TO GIVE GOVERNMENT MORE MONEY FROM ANOTHER SOURCE (AND HIT YOUR POCKET)?
SHOULD ROAD-PRICING EVANGELISTS REALLY REPRESENT DRIVERS?
Too good to be true?
Many drivers have been happy to support FairFuel UK (FFUK) ’s campaign to keep fuel prices down. I personally wondered if any driver campaign set up by a would-be LibDem MP (Peter Carroll) was too good to be true.
When I tried to complete FFUK’s online summer poll, for some reason, I wasn’t allowed to submit my response unless I answered a particular 'question' with a ‘Yes’.
It asked whether I supported FFUK to represent UK road users on the Government's proposed Passenger Focus watchdog.
FFUK also seemed to be hinting that the quango’s brief should go well beyond its basic remit, to monitor the Highways Agency. It made me ask – is there another agenda?
Talking up road pricing?
RAC Motoring Services’ Technical Director, David Bizley confirmed that “the RAC is not opposed to the principle of road pricing... Any attempt to introduce road pricing will need to be explained carefully so that people understand the benefits.”
Another leading supporter, Robert Halfon MP, has pushed for a 'debate' on funding roads.
Quentin Willson seems to be the main FFUK frontman, On 20 February 2014, his blog featured a Commercial Motor article. For 'balance', it had Jeremy Desmond clearly for road pricing, and Peter Barber "against" - with reservations about additional costs, but otherwise believing it was "a great idea" and "the fairest way". Get the picture?
It also noted Howard Cox (FFUK co-founder and business associate of Carroll) was for Pay-As-You-Go road pricing ‘in principle so long as fuel duty was abolished’. (Dream on...)
Working for the tax-hungry Treasury...
In June, FFUK’s leading duo, Willson and Cox, had a photo-opportunity with Danny Alexander MP, the LibDem Chief Secretary to the Treasury. His LibDem party wants road pricing, his department wants additional sources of revenue from drivers (See main 2012 Budget document).
By pure coincidence, Carroll’s LinkedIn profile revealed that he has been working as a Special Advisor to Alexander since November 2013!
Not wanting to be over-taxed is ‘irresponsible’, Quentin?
(i.e. whose side are you on – Britain’s drivers’ or the Treasury’s?)
After the IPPR think tank published a road pricing promo report, Willson blogged (22 Jun 2014)
"More validation of FairFuelUK's campaigning this month from The Institute for Public Policy Research. In their new report, The Long Road to Ruin, the IPPR say that 'the current system of UK motor taxation is unfair and fiscally unsustainable.'...
...we can't carry on relying on fuel duty to supply nearly 2% of annual UK GDP in tax receipts and that serious reform is needed. I've always maintained that we need a fairer Pay As You Go taxation system which will have to include some form of road charging.... [and then talked up the ‘benefits’].
Europe has made their road system of tolls work remarkably well and we could too. But that's going to take real political strength. The report concludes that any sea change to the current road taxation status quo 'will require a great deal of political courage', but those who oppose any reform 'can validly be accused of wilful fiscal irresponsibility'.
The Big Change will happen, the only question is how soon? FairFuelUK is emboldened by the growing view of policymakers that we've been right all along.... “
- Britain’s hard-pressed drivers pay about £50bn a year in taxes (roughly half of which is fuel duty) and only about £10Bn is spent back on our roads. Are we really ‘irresponsible’ for objecting to being taxed for using the roads maybe five times over, and potentially even more?
For some reason, FFUK’s main webpage only sticks to blander, more palatable open objectives, without their frontmen’s more controversial views! And in the previous few years, they seem to have kept these views relatively out of sight when seeking drivers’ trust and financial support.
Whereas its leading men have the right to their own opinions, no way are they representative of Britain’s 33 million drivers on this vital issue. We let them represent us at our peril, and if they try to do so, their spokesmen should be firmly put on the spot.
Don’t be fuelled....
The webpage admits: “It's only because of the pressure from you through the campaign that we now have this historic tax U-turn”.
Driver pressure may again need to prevail.... don’t be ‘fuelled’ into supporting LibDem road pricing through the back door or letting its pushers represent you against your interests.
FOOTNOTE: REPRESENTING INTERESTS – BUT NOT MOTORISTS?
The Motorists’ Forum was originally a tame body set up by John Prescott, the former Labour Transport Secretary who was ideologically committed to driving people out of their cars. Hardly surprising that he set up a forum representing mainly political and commercial interests, although a minority interest (disabled drivers) was represented.
For an insight into the current representation – co-ordinated by the DFT.