The Tory Recession and Class warfare

Well, it is official now, the country has lurched into a double dip recession. Not since the 70’s have we seen such an event, or such a gloomy long term economic outlook. Of course those of us who live in the real world (unlike certain posh boys who don’t even know the price of milk) have known that we’ve been in recession pretty much since the day the Tory cuts started to bite.

While the Tory’s will try to blame labour for this double whammy recession, but the Tory’s are clearly at fault here. Indeed I would pin the bulk of the blame for the financial crisis on the deregulation undertaken by “the” Thatcher. The biggest mistake that labour made was that they were too chickshit scared of “old labour” name calling that they didn’t do the sensible thing and reverse these Tory polices.

As I’ve regularly pointed out in this column, yes we need to get the deficit down, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about doing this. Certainly austerity and cuts have to be part of any solution. But you need to cut things that are cut-able (i.e. that won’t cause severe economic hardship) and the cuts need to be timed appropriately. Cutting too fast and too hard, will have negative economic effects (i.e. lots of former civil servants on the dole, no longer paying tax or paying their rent/mortgages). Not least of those effects is the risk that everyone (both people and company’s), fearful that they’ll be next for the chop, stops or puts off major spending decisions (buying a house, ordering new machinery, hiring a new employee). This causes the brakes to come on to the economy, leading to a recession, which leads to reduced tax receipts and the deficit going up not down!

Casing point, if you’re on the motorway and it starts to get foggy, you won’t sit on your brakes in the the middle lane? No, you’d slow down gradually and make your way over to the outside lane. But with Osborne in the driving seat, that’s what we’ve done with the economy and got rammed up the arse by a truck for our trouble!

This is precisely what has happened in the EU, the IMF and the Germans forced various European governments to cut spending far too quickly and far too deeply, worsening an already dire crisis, nevermind the democratic and social implications of this policy. Had they taken a more longer term view, its likely many of the trouble eurozone economy’s would now be in recovery. I know people in Ireland who say, they’d love to start up a business, or buy a house but they fear what’s around the next corner, and are therefore sitting on any cash…or indeed they’ve transferred their cash out of the eurozone altogether, just in case it implodes!

Similarly the Tory cuts in Britain have slowed down the economy, undoing Gordon Brown’s best efforts and pushing us back into recession. For example, the Tory’s cut the subsidy to solar energy installers. The result? Hundreds laid off in this sector (they had up till then been recruiting heavily), and many major capital projects cancelled. Now while the Tory’s will claim they had to cut the subsidy, as solar panels have become increasingly cheap (and ultimately I would argue the industry need to assume one day it will have to live without subsidy), there is like I said, a time and a place. Phasing in such cuts over a lengthy time period would have ensured a soft landing for both the solar industry and exchequer. Instead, Osborne effectively killed off growth in this industry. Of course this may have something to do with pressure from the nuclear lobby, who fear that if renewable energy keeps growing at the current pace, there will be scant if anything much left for their (French built) reactors to do.

Personally, I’ve been humming and hawing about buying a house for sometime, but one thing that puts me off, is that I don’t know what the Tory’s have in store for us next. If there is a risk of me ending up unemployed, I don’t want to be paying a mortgage. If house prices take another nose dive, I don’t want to be left with negative equity.

And I’m quite sure many others reading this can come up with their own examples about how spending decisions were deferred or put off by themselves or employers.

Of course, we can’t cut our way out of a deficit crisis. In addition to some reasonable austerity measures, taxes have to be raised to compensate. Naturally those who’ve done well out of the boom, such as the ultra-rich, should pay the bulk of these new taxes (see my article “the Patriot Tax” for more). However, instead Osborne gave the mega rich a tax cut. Indeed, as I commented at the time of the last budget, it included few if any major new taxes, aside from one on Pasties (hint to Osborne, contrary to what you’re Bullingdon buddies think the working class don’t eat that many pasties for such a tax to solve the deficit). Key tax loop holes that benefit the landed gentry, such as the “slipper farmers” one were left wide open.

As our entry into recession shows, this Tory mantra that you can cut you’re way to a better tomorrow is simply not true. This blows away a “founding myth” of neo-liberal economic policy, and the political right.

Furthermore, it demonstrates that the economic policy of the present Tory government, while it might provide the illusion of deficit reduction, does no such thing. The Tory’s don’t care about the deficit (as I commented on before). All the present government is seeking to achieve is cuts to public services that do not benefit toff’s like them, while ensuring their rich upper class buddies pay even less of a share of the UK’s taxes as they do now. In essence its little short of class warfare!

Is Jeremy Hunt’s being a bit of a c….t?

The Minister for Murdoch ass kissing Jeremy Hunt (course they reckon he should be called something else on the Today programme!) had his true job description exposed. Of all things, this came from the Murdoch’s themselves, obviously keen to deflect some of the flak for this whole crisis onto the Tory’s.

There have been numerous corrupt links between Murdoch and many politicians going back decades. But its obvious that the links between the Cameron adm. and the Murdoch’s was close. He, Hunt and Osborne regularly attended Chipping Norton knee’s up’s with the Murdoch’s or “sideshow” Brooks. Indeed, Cameron even got a ride out of her (on her ex-police horse!). Hunt himself may well have hammered out the deal that won the Tory’s the support of the Murdoch press in advance of the last election. And its worth remembering how crucial that support was, notably the “kill Clegg” meeting between the heads of the Daily Telegraph and James Murdoch. Also don’t forget James Murdoch’s confrontation with the editor of the Independent in the middle of the election campaign. Deny it all he likes but Rupert is, unlike his papers, crap at lying. I’ve no doubt, as with last time, the flaws in both his and his spawn’s testimony will be exposed in the coming weeks. Except this time he will have lied under oath.

But back to Jeremy “kiss-ass” Hunt. It was, as I commented, awfully convenient Vince Cable being taken off the decision on B-SKY-B. And “by happy coincidence” it ending up with Hunt! This is simply too much of a coincidence. And naturally, as it was Cameron who made the decision to strip Vince Cable of the deal decision, he had to be in on it. It is indeed fortunate for Cameron that he heeded hard-line Tory pressure to force Vince Cable’s resignation, not doubt because he knew it was a setup (a setup I commented bore an ery similarity to smear attempts aimed at other members of the committee that questioned the Murdoch’s, notably Louise Mensch).

Of course had Cameron actually been so foolish, its likely we’d now be looking like Vince Cable (the ex-minister) had become a beacon for dissatisfied Lib Dems, who would as of Tuesday crossed the floor and voted the coalition out of office. I would consequently be instead discussing in this blog whether Osborne had enough time before the general election to recover from and become an effective leader of his party.

Either way, the reason why Hunt hasn’t been fired yet (incidentally Jeremy a PM consistently telling you that he has confidence in you means you’re goose is cooked) is because Cameron is using him as a meat shield. Image this scene from Total Recall, with Cameron as Arnie and Jeremy as “the unfortunate”.

Either way, this scandal is far from over. It so easily could have brought down the government and it still could.

Nightmare journey! Courtesy of Virgin Trains

Got the to train from Glasgow to Coventry the other day. I got to the train station at 7:30 am, got on an early train…only for it to go nowhere for 2hrs! Finally, they came on the intercom on told the entire train (which now due to the delays consisted of the passengers from 2-3 trains) to decant and hurry over to Motherwell where the train would now be leaving from. We all had to rush off and squeeze on to a commuter train (at the back end of the rush hour!). After a bit of a wait on an overcrowded Motherwell platform, we were off again, on a train that looked suspiciously like the one we’d left behind in Glasgow Central….suggesting that the reason why it hadn’t left for two hours was due to some box ticking H & S malarkey…or because they couldn’t be bothered to fork out the extra cash to get maintenance done on a weekend!

Anyway, I then received conflicting instructions, one lot told me to stay on the train and get off at Wolverhampton, the other said, get off at Carlisle, which I got just as the train was pulling into the station. Ran off the train, and only realised as it was pulling away that I’d left behind my laptop bag on board!

Anyway, the train for next leg of my journey shows up, I was told to change trains at Warrington (another guy on the train in a similar predicament and been told the train would stop at Stafford, but it sailed on thro). Then I was supposed to get train from there which was supposed to stop at Coventry, but it didn’t go there and instead went straight into London Euston. As this was the likely spot to find my laptop, I decided to go visit Lost and Found, but “we’re lost ourselves” is the best way I can describe the staff there, they were no help!

But there were more useful than Virgin train staff, who won’t let me board the train, and then had the nerve to charge me an extra £26.50 to get to Coventry (even tho I was only there due to their incompetence!). They seem to have a fairly mercenary attitude the Virgin train staff in London, which boils down to “here comes a customer, lets see how much we can stiff him for”. Terrible people! While Deutsche Bahn‘s corporate motto is “travel better by train” I assume Virgin’s is “stand and deliver! You’re money or you’re life”

That night I was sick, likely due to a dodgy sandwich I bought on the train!

Anyway, last time I ever go by Virgin trains again, plan to avoid railways as much as I can now and next time I’m driving to Scotland. The UK train system is now so expensive, so badly run, that its little short of a waste of time. Environmentalist I might be, but I’m also not a mug, and if you use the trains regularly, then you’re a mug! Keen as I am on train travel, the UK’s train system is simply so decrepit and eyewateringly expensive that its become pointless to use it.

I avoid using my name sake airline (Ryanair, no I’m not related in any way to this guys, so don’t bother e-mailing me about the time they lost you’re bags) unless I absolutely have too, because while you can get a good deal from them, when things go wrong, you’re fucked! (I assume that the motto of Ryanair is “what the fuck do you want now”). The train companies, notably Virgin, are essentially offering Ryanair service for British Airways prices. If anything goes wrong with you’re journey, as with Ryanair, you’re well and truly stuffed and the Virgin staff are practically rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of what they can shaft you for. Hence, I see little to be gained from traveling with them. As I’ve previously pointed out, its actually cheaper in many cases in the UK to drive for less than the off peak (nevermind any time) ticket price.

Conditions of Carriage

To those down trodden commuters who feel they have no choice but to take a train (or a bus) I’ve one bit of advice – stand up for you’re rights as specified in the conditions of carriage. In essence when you buy a ticket on public transport you’re essentially entering into an agreement with the rail company to convey you to you’re destination within a reasonable time period. If they fail to complete this in a timely manner you’re entitled to compensation. And of course, if they fail to complete the journey at all (the bus/train breaks down or is somehow cancelled or delayed to the point of making the journey impossible) its basically their responsibility to get you to you’re destination, regardless of what that ultimately ends up costing them (if they have to get you and everyone else on the train to travel 40 miles by taxi, so be it!).

Of course for obvious reasons, staff at many train companies have a habit of developing “selective amnesia” as regards these rights, hence why its important that you apply them. If everyone whose journey was delayed by that cock up in Glasgow the other day claimed compo like I did, then after that happens a couple of times, trains would be delayed a lot less frequently, as the company simply could no longer afford to keep paying out compensation! Of course, the rail companies will try every trick they can to make things difficult. The claims process is bureaucratic (they’ll practically want you to show up with both parents to prove you’ve been born sort of stuff), they’ll loose the odd form (course Royal Mail being a similar bunch of incompetent wasters will often do this job for them), they’ll take months to process it, they’ll misspell you’re name on the compo cheque, every trick they can in the hope you’ll give up and go away. But like I said, stick with it. Enough people do, then things will start to change.

Of course, as I see, the quickest way to bring about change on Britain’s railways is to avoid them altogether and deprived of passengers, just let the whole sorry mess keel over. Then on the wreckage a “proper” railways service can be built in its place. I mean would people in any other part of Europe put up with this combination of overpriced, crowded and unreliable trains? No way! they’d skin ya alive! It would be a resigning issue in many other countries if trains were run this badly.

My laptop loss is playing havoc with me. Its like loosing a limb! Again, I reckon there’s little hope of recovering the laptop as Virgin seem pretty lousy at recovering lost property….although my suspicion is it was likely nicked by one of their staff! While I’ve backed up most of the stuff and now have a new machine up and running, I’ve been too busy the last few weeks to back up stuff, so I’ve lost the best part of two months worth of files. Either way, I suspect next time I go between Glasgow and the Midlands, I’ll be going by bus or driving.

Qatada Syndrome

Teresa May, the Tory Home Secretary, appears to have come down with serious illness :oops:, one that affected her predecessor also, its called “Qatada Syndrome”. Symptoms include, raising of voice, much bluster, irrational behaviour, paranoia and obsession about a particularly Jordanian bigot. In more serious cases this condition can lead to ridicule in parliament, loss of credibility and ultimately resignation.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be an apologist for Qatada. Quite frankly, as I see it, by relying on the European Court of Human rights he completely makes a mockery of his own theology. If his extreme version of Islamic law applied to the UK, there would be no human rights, no lawyers, no right of appeal and the case would be decided on the first day with sentence carried out immediately afterwards with the aid of a scimitar. If there’s there anything we need to change about the European courts its inserting a clause that anyone using it has to agree that they accept the benefits of universal human rights (which would immediately put Qatada, or Brevik in a bit of a pickle).

But how dangerous is he really? Is the government seriously suggesting that if he’s released or allowed to stay in the country he’s going to start building bombs or something. He’s the most watched person in the country! If he so much as says hello to somebody who is remotely thinking of becoming a jihadi, or starting humming “bada bomb ba bomb…” the flying squad will be all over him quicker than you can say “you’re nicked sunshine”. Then he’ll be banged up for a few decades…probably banged more than one way once plod arrange for this 6ft 6 guy called Bubba to become Qatada’s bunk mate :>>. Indeed, the fact that he’s been here for well over a decade and not been caught doing anything suggests to me that he, like Bush, is a chicken hawk. He can talk the Jihadi talk, but is too chickshit scared to walk the jihadi walk.

But if we release him on bail, he’ll abscond, say the government. Wha? You reckon that a bearded sandal wearing Muslim in traditional Arab dress, one of the most photographed people in the country right now, his face on multiple tabloid front pages, with a wife in a Burka in tow (and 15 special branch officers shadowing him) could slip through border security unnoticed. Now I know the UK border agency are having problems these days, but I think Teresa May seems to have a very low opinion of her own people if they think they could fail to spot him, unless she knows something we don’t! And where’s he going to go? France? No burka’s allowed there! A Muslim country? You’re joking right! He’s trying to avoid deportation to a Muslim country. After all perish the thought of him having to live under Islamic law!

So my advice, is to simply let nature take its course. Either he’ll get deported eventually, a lot of the usual legal BS not withstanding, or he’ll remain in the country under watch, or he’ll screw up and get himself arrested. Either way, the best thing that politicians like Teresa May can do, is stay out of it and let events just take their course.

May Elections

Well we have elections coming up shortly, local ones anyway. Course typically, having gone to the trouble of registering to vote, I’m stuck as to who to vote for.

The Tories, aka the nasty party? The party of toff’s and rich donors? The party of the Pasty Tax, that was so out of touch that I’ve a suspicion that David Cameron was baffled when his staff told him no, they don’t come in smoked salmon or caviar flavour. While Osborne came across like a modern day Mr Bumble “WHAT you your pasties heated BOY!”. Besides, I’m Irish and I doubt they’d let me back in the country if I ever voted Tory.

Labour?….normally I’d be inclined, but to be honest they look a bit incompetent. Ed Miliband always looks like he’s still surprised to have won, and Ed Balls seems to think he’s in charge. I’m still wondering if Ed only stood as part of some chess game him and his brother were playing with the other candidates, which then backfired when the wrong Miliband won. Again they didn’t fare much better from Pastie-gate as their visit to that Greggs just made them look equally out of touch. Am I not voting for labour because I fear that they are controlled by the unions? (as Tories will often argue). No, the problem with labour is that nobody’s in charge. They are a rudderless ship. The lights are on, but no ones home….
….now if Miliband got Balls in a headlock or something, then I might be persuaded :>>.

Lib Dems? Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are forever coming across as a pair of Mr Barrowclough‘s from Porridge “oh now David, do you have to put up the student fees, I’m mean please! promise me it will only be for Russell group uni’s…” They don’t seem to understand, part of being in a coalition with the Tories doesn’t mean they bow to every Tory request. Opinion polls would seem to suggest that Operation Liberal Shield (where the Daily Mail blames everything bad the government does on the Lib dems and credits everything good to the Tory’s) is working well. Consequently a good drumming in local elections might scare them straight, so I will purposely not be voting for them. Now, if Nick Clegg were to deck David C at a press conference and start ramming a pastie up his pompous you-know-what, well again, I might change my mind :)).

The Greens?, an obvious choice, but with First-Past-The-Post they have very little chance of winning, so it would be essentially a protest vote.

Respect/Socialists another possibility, tho I have a rule with socialists parties in that I will not vote for them if I see more than one on the same ballot paper. If they are too incompetent,badly organised and riven by infighting and petty backstabbing too sort out who is running in which district, then there’s little point in voting for any of them.

BNP, EDL, UKIP? any of you louts show up at my door canvassing will be subject to a random citizenship tests. Any who fail the test or refuse to take it, and I’ll be entitled to yell “bloody foreigners” and “go home” at them as they retreat.

…but also in Greek

But the UK isn’t the only place having elections, there’s also a general election due in Greece. In case you thought you had a tough choice, spare a thought for the Greeks! And should any politicians in the UK feel unloved, just do a 24hr job swap with a Greek politician, and see if you can hack it.

While the situation has stabilised somewhat, before it looked like the mainstream parties were going to get wiped out. PASOK, the main centre left party, saw their support fall from 45% at the last election to just 8% in February, although they’ve since recovered to 14%. Either way all of the major Greek parties are looking at taking some major losses. One interesting observation, is that the support for the major centre right party “New Democracy” is surprisingly strong at 18%, given that they are the eejits and gobshites (to use the Irish technical terms) who borrowed all of that money and got the country into this mess. I see two possibilities, either the Greeks have short memories, or it might be down to the fact that many in Europe who are planning to vote for a far-right party are often reluctant to tell this to pollsters (out of fear of being whacked over the head with a clip-board) and will often quote some major right-wing party instead (e.g. BNP or EDL guys will say UKIP or Tory). Consequently, it will be interesting to see what support ND actually get.

Either way, it seems unlikely the mainstream parties will get enough support to form a majority. The end result will be some sort of radical left/right coalition or a Rainbow coalition of the Left. Neither will likely be stable for very long, but then again, they should remain stable long enough to give Merkel the two fingered salute and tell her and IMF where they can stick these austerity measures.

So we may see some fireworks alight in Greece, if not in the UK!

Road Wars, Part II – Roads for sale?

Another Tory proposal, prior the current policy (I shall summarise the last half a week as: fuel protests! Ahhhh! Fill up you’re cars quickly, buy Jerry cans….but don’t panic!…keep calm and carry on…wait you are panicking! Ahhh! everyone panic!) was the idea of privatising the UK’s road network, announced by the PM last week. This would see private companies owning, maintaining and potentially building new roads (or adding lanes to existing roads) within the UK.

While the Jeremy Clarkson mob will whinge and moan about high petrol prices (again, what I call the Kevin and Perry defence, “petrol’s too expensive, its so unfair, I hate you!”) any meaningful study has consistently shown that when you add up the costs of building (about £100-200 Billion just to build the A-roads and motorways), maintain them, policing and provide emergency cover, it all costs much more than what motorists actually pay in road tax and petrol duty. And this does not factor in the costs of dangerous climate change nor the environmental damage caused by tailpipe emissions, or the unhealthy lifestyles that come with a car based culture, nor the costs of maintaining access to foreign oil supplies. Further the true cost of motoring is currently falling, contrary to popular believe (although I suspect the source I’m referencing has not adjusted for recent rises in oil prices).

Either way, this idea of the taxpayer constantly being required to subsidise drivers to a truly excessive level is not to the liking of either environmentalists nor indeed many of the fiscal conservative wing of the Tory party. They both favour policies such as road pricing or that all new roads (and even a few existing ones) should be tolled in future, restoring the cost balance and making motorists pay something a little closer to the true costs of motoring. Of course, experts reckon that road pricing would bring up motoring costs to about 20-40p per mile in rural areas, and about £1 or so in urban areas, about 2 to 5 times more than what motorists currently pay (in terms of road tax and petrol duty, but not including other costs such as the fuel itself, insurance, depreciation, etc. as these are ones personal costs of running a car and nothing to do with the state). Thus while such a policy would allow for the ditching of petrol duty and road tax, motorists would be hit with a massive hike in their costs, which will not be to the liking of many car driving Tories.

Hence, Cameron is thus in a bit of bind here, stuck between two competing ideologies within his own party, nevermind the pressure from the the Lib dems. On the one hand some want motorists to pay a fair amount of what it costs the state to run the roads, and in particular they want no new money allocated for new major road building projects (i.e. such enterprises must be self financing with the money recovered directly in some way from the drivers who use it). And with the UK’s population expanding and rising railway costs forcing people back onto the roads, some pretty big road and bridge building projects are inevitably going to have to be taken forward soon. But on the other hand, the Tory’s know better than to tangle with the all powerful road lobby.

Indeed, take a look at the comments page to the beeb article I posted earlier. I noted that it hit 1,500 messages, mostly negative within a few hours. After the PM’s announcement you had members of the AA and RAC lining up to go onto the morning news programs warning of Armageddon (or is that carmageddon!). We even had a polemic piece by Robert Peston about China winding up owning Britain’s roads.

The recent flap over the petrol tanker strikes should hammer home to you the power of the motoring lobby. The Tories recently provoked mass panic buying of petrol through a combination of out-of-touch dithering, a desire to distract from the recent dinner 4 donors scandal, but also a desire to avoid a repeat of the year 2000 protests. This say Blair’s poll ratings fall to the level that if there had been election immediately afterwards, the Tories would have won a clear majority (something they failed to do in 2010).

So the government needs to tread carefully here. But is it the right policy they are pursuing? I would argue no. The privatisation of the UK’s railways, power and water companies, has clearly shown that all you end up doing is increasing the costs of such services, not decreasing them and decreasing reliability. And ultimately as it’s essential that the country has semi-decent public transport (or water, or power) many of these supposedly private companies quickly learn that they are essentially too important to fail and can rely on the government riding to the rescue with cash for this and that, eliminating the moral hazard that is essential to any “private” competitive industry. Consequently I suspect this Tory policy would likely just increase the costs of running the UK’s highway’s not decrease it.

Now, not being that keen on cars myself, I could be unkind and give this policy my whole hearted support, secretly hoping it would fail, cause the cost of motoring to soar forcing many more motorists out of their cars (cutting carbon emissions) and onto public transport (increasing the viability of public transport by pushing up usage rates) but that wouldn’t be very honest. No, we need a road’s policy that is fit for purpose and currently, as Nick Robinson points out here, privatisation is not something the UK public seem keen on these days.

Firstly, the initial pilot plan by the Tories is for the roads to be leased to private companies with any revenue raised coming directly from taxpayers (i.e. for the interim no new tolls) and loans to finance the improvements coming from banks. And how will that improve anything? Already most road building in the UK is handled by private building contractors, the only bit of the process that is “socialised” is the issue of paying off these companies (i.e. via taxation), which the very bit the government proposes to keep! Also I doubt any corporation can get a loan off of a bank for a lower rate of interest that the Treasury can….unless there’s some really bad news in the pipeline the Tories are trying to hid from us!

Also a system mixing publicly owned motorways and private toll roads won’t work, people will just drive around them. Casing point, take the M6 toll bypass around Birmingham. How many reading this have actually used it? rather than taking the extra time to drive through Brommie and save yourself 6 quid. It defeats the purpose of building a bypass if it sits underused while its bumper to bumper in the city centre.

Solutions?
I would throw in my two cents by arguing that firstly the roads should remain in public ownership. If privatised, it would have to be all or nothing, or some sort of hybrid (like the Autoroutes in France) with all the motorways tolled, no exceptions.

A better idea would be some accounting. In this letter we’re supposed to be getting from Osborne setting out what our taxes are spent on, how about a column which totals the true cost of motoring (i.e. road building, maintenance and finance costs by both parliament and councils, the policing costs, NHS costs, emergency cover costs, economic costs of road accidents, etc). This would shut most of the road lobby up and soften them up for the next step.

I’ve long argued for a carbon tax, as this would link consumption of many things (including petrol) directly to what the smarmy wee Bullingdon boy in No. 11 takes you for. The polluter pays, as the expression goes. It would also allow the relaxation of petrol duty, while at the same time encourage the deployment of electric cars and alternative fuelled vehicles.

I would also advocate a policy of road pricing over road tax. Again, this links usage of the roads to what one pays. However, I would include a sliding price scale set on the basis of individual income. This would link ones ability to pay to what it costs you to drive. Consequently a tradesman of limited means who has to drive (because it’s a little inconvenient to carry all his tools on public transport) will not pay an excessive amount, while a millionaire who chooses to drive into London each day in his Chelsea tractor because he doesn’t want to rub shoulders with commoners, will pay through the nose for the privilege.

Even environmentalists need to accept that the road network is an important part of the national infrastructure. But equally, those on the right need to accept that somebody has to pay for it. And increasingly, whichever party you support, that’s going to have to be those who use the roads.

Road Wars, Part I – Panic at the Pumps!

This week the Cameron government tried to create “an orderly panic” and unfortunately learned that there is no such thing. It is in essence proof of “Bob’s Law” (a term from Judge Dredd, that it only take’s one or two people to do something stupid and pretty soon you have everyone else joining in). The English like to claim their motto is “keep calm and carry on”. Shouldn’t that be “panic at the first wiff of trouble and run around screaming like a frightened Chihuahua” .

There are many reasons for this panic at the petrol pumps, the heavy dependence of many in the UK on their cars and a car bound lifestyle is one reason. Given the issue of peak oil looming, this should come as a wake up call to many. If you’ve just spend several hours queuing for petrol because you can’t get by without a car, you really need to revaluate your life. How are you going to cope with post peak oil prices which will make current oil prices look like a bargain?

Further you will see no greater proof of the power of the road lobby than the willingness of the government to deploy the army to function as scab labourers to counter a strike.

But indeed, government dithering is certainly part of the problem. The tory government put out mixed messages to say the least varying from don’t panic, too fill up you’re jerry can and do panic! Indeed this jerry can business I think highlights how out of touch these millionaires ministers are with society. Now while I correctly guessed that when Francis Maude talked about filling a few jerry cans and sticking them in the garage he was referring to the little 5L things you fill up the lawnmower with (rather that the big 20L units that the media jumped to the conclusion), he seemed to assume that everyone has a garage (and one assumes a butler too!). I could put them in my garden, but my neighbour mightn’t be happy about that as I’ll be preventing him from nipping outside for a ciggie. And what about people in tenement flats or tower blocks?

Worse still, its becoming obvious that the Tories may have been itching for a fight and may have engineered this crisis for political reasons. The Guardian have just published leaked e-mails suggesting that the Tories were contemplating this as they’re “Thatcher moment” to take on and beat the unions. There is also the possibility that they calculated that they could benefit from a crisis by distracting attention from the Dinner 4 Donors scandal (or cash for cocktails or Caviar 4 C*nt’s or Food 4 Fuckwits or Tugger 4 toff’s…I’ll stop now!). Unfortunately Tory dithering and the panic that came from their mixed messages suggest that this might be their “Major moment” when the Cameron government jumps the shark and looses its credibility. Indeed, even the Tories blogs are starting to turn rowdy.

But the idiots queuing for petrol also have to take some of the flak. I mean come on guys, what were you thinking? The unions have to give 7 days notice before a strike and its been widely reported and pointed out that so long as everyone sticks to their normal driving habits, it would be 14 days before stocks were depleted. But what if strike lasted longer than 14 days? Well what we’re you planning to do? leave the car at home and not fill up for 21 days?

Governments are supposed to be there to prevent a crisis or limit they’re impact. But the Tory’s have succeeded in doing the opposite, making a problem much worse to the point where the tanker drivers actually going on strike would be the least of our worries.