ALISTAIR Darling, the Labour government transport minister, yesterday unveiled the government’s plan to drive millions of working class drivers off the roads with a new road tax, payable by the mile travelled.
At the same time, there is to be a satellite-linked spy in every lorry, van and car, recording all of the vehicle’s movements as well as its speed.
In one swoop, the British worker is to become the most exploited driver in the world as well as the most spied on.
On his person he will have his identity card with all of his details on it from date of birth and marriage, and children’s details, to national insurance number, place of work etc.
The moment he leaves his home he will be captured on numerous CCTV tapes, until he steps into his car.
There, he will be spied on by satellite tracking which will record all of the movements of the vehicle, including its speed.
What wonderful freedoms the Blairites are bringing to Britain!
With this scheme they have eclipsed Thatcher’s Poll Tax, and we all remember the reaction to that.
Darling says he is planning to replace road tax and the massive petrol duty revenues the government extracts, with road charging. Since the revenue from petrol duties comes to many billions, the road charging will have to be very severe to make up for the loss of duty.
Darling is proposing each driver should be charged for every mile of his or her journey with the price depending on the level of congestion and the area – from 20 pence a mile on quiet rural routes to £1.34 a mile on busy routes into the cities.
Even if Darling gives the petrol away at the filling stations the average working class driver will take a tremendous battering. He cannot stop going to work, while the rich, by definition, will be able to afford the new road tax and enjoy a road system cleansed of millions of working class drivers.
Darling says a decision on road pricing will be made ‘during the course of this parliament’. This is despite the fact that the issue did not appear in the Labour Party’s general election manifesto!
He predicted that there will be car charge trials within five years and that the full scheme will be brought in within ten years.
We predict that this policy will be opposed by tens of millions, and that the result of its declaration by Darling will see millions of workers angrily set out to remove the Blair-Brown government.
Yesterday, numerous university professors were lecturing the nation, that the only way road transport can continue in Britain is through ‘road charging’.
This, of course, is nonsense. For many years, from Beeching onwards, governments ran down the nationalised railway, and its capacity to carry freight, saying that road haulage could do the job much better.
The Thatcher government carried out the rail privatisation disaster and the Blair government continued it, handing out billions in subsidies to keep the rail privateers in profits, while the railways gave up even carrying ‘Red Star’ packages and ended the Mail trains.
To deal with the transport crisis this policy must be reversed. The railways must be renationalised, and the billions currently propping up the rail privateers, used to develop its commuter and freight carrying capacity.
The privatisation of the tube network must be halted and the bus industries renationalised to create an integrated national transport system, with cheap fares and running on time, that will do the required job.
This is the socialist way forward. The Blairites pose as modernisers. Yet they are the ones who want to return the motor car to being the chosen method of transport of the rich, while it is to be bicycles for the rest.