Blair Does Big Brother?

Radio 2 can have its uses.  For one thing, it may save you money.

Last week they carried a story about this proposed car tax scheme.  Apparently there is only one month left to register your objection to the ‘Pay As You Go’ road tax. The petition is on the 10 Downing St website; not that you’d notice!

So, at the time of the Radio 2 broadcast only 250,000 people had signed it and 750,000 signatures are needed for the government to think twice.

The government’s proposal to introduce road pricing will mean you having to purchase a tracking device for your car and paying a monthly bill to use it. The tracking device will cost about £200 and in a recent study by the BBC, the lowest monthly bill was £28 for a rural florist and £194 for a delivery driver. A non working mother who used the car to take the kids to school paid £86 in one month.  And how on Earth would students afford it?!

On top of this massive increase in tax, you will be tracked. Somebody will know where you are at all times. They will also know how fast you have been going, so even if you accidentally creep over a speed limit in time you can probably expect a Notice of Intended Prosecution with your monthly bill. 

Concerned about this Orwellian plan?  You can sign the petition on No 10’s new website:

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/traveltax



17 comments


    Sue Burnett

    February 12, 2007

    theagingfanboy says “There??????s tens of millions of us who didn??????t sign the petition. My MP is a representative, not a delegate, and if 10 million people signed a petition to abolish speed limits I hope that MPs would ignore that too.”

    Logical fallacy, agingfanboy – tens of millions not signing does not mean tens of millions who disagree – most people don’t actively participate even when they have a clearly defined view (either way). The fact that so many *did* take the trouble to sign is what is so significant.

    As for your last point – it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which that would happen. But if such a proposal did generate a response from 10m people, it would suggest that some other (unspecified) factors were being taken into consideration and I, for one, would expect our political representatives to take notice. Especially if they wanted to keep their seats at the next election… 😉

    Instead of taking the easy option of slapping another income-generating tax on the motorist (particularly when combined with tracking), we should be looking at viable transport alternatives, reduction of emissions etc, as well as all the other measures that need to be taken to improve the situation re climate change.

    Carolyn

    February 12, 2007

    I am disabled, I have no choice but to drive. Even were I able – bodied, the buses round here stop at 6pm, and the service which takes my neighbours to our local shopping centre ran for the last time today – it has been taken off the road. No choice there then…
    I cover a fair amount of milage as I am running my elderly parents about too. My father is suffering from terminal cancer, so public transport is not an option for them either. My father has been receiving treatment at Christie Hospital in Manchester. As they do not have enough ambulances to pick up patients they depend on the goodwill and help of volunteer drivers in private cars. I suspect that Christie is not the only hospital that has to do this. Guess what will happen when these well intentioned souls are taxed for doing a good deed..? Answers on a postcard, please…

    Mark

    February 12, 2007

    “I am disabled, I have no choice but to drive. Even were I able ??????? bodied, the buses round here stop at 6pm, and the service which takes my neighbours to our local shopping centre ran for the last time today ??????? it has been taken off the road. No choice there then??????
    I cover a fair amount of milage as I am running my elderly parents about too. My father is suffering from terminal cancer, so public transport is not an option for them either. My father has been receiving treatment at Christie Hospital in Manchester. As they do not have enough ambulances to pick up patients they depend on the goodwill and help of volunteer drivers in private cars. I suspect that Christie is not the only hospital that has to do this. Guess what will happen when these well intentioned souls are taxed for doing a good deed..? Answers on a postcard, please??????”

    You can’t argue by extremes.

    Look at the current system. I have a car to drive once a month to the shop and back, and to visit friends that live farther away every other week.

    I do not drive to work. I do not drive to town. I do not drive to visit most of my friends. I do not drive to the gym. In fact, I rarely drive. Why is it fair that I pay the same amount as someone who drives 50+ miles day?

    AND WHAT IS UP WITH THE ORDER OF THESE COMMENTS!

    Mike

    February 12, 2007

    I am pleased to be able to comment on this. I do not, in general,
    approve of blogs with comments disabled. In particular, I do not
    approve of blogs with comments disabled where a one-sided view
    is presented.

    If you accept that there is global warming, that one of the causes is
    carbon dioxide emissions and that something should be done
    about that, then it follows that control of those emissions is
    necessary.

    Quite simply, the principle of the ‘polluter pays’ can be applied. I
    can see no valid argument for applying this principle to everyone
    but oneself, ,whether one is a motorist, a flyer or whatever.

    toshack

    February 12, 2007

    True, Mike, something should be done about the CO2 emissions.

    But why not force car manufacturers into doing something rather than taxing students (and many others) who can ill afford to pay?

    The reason is simple; profitability. Blair wants to keep business sweet, so the rest of us must pay.

    theagingfanboy

    February 12, 2007

    Oh it’s all just a big plot by Tony Blair isn’t it? I have a feeling that the main opponents of car taxation like to drive as fast as they can with no consideration for the guy in front.
    Big Brother’s already here? If my daughter was on a night bus I’d be a lot happier if there was CCTV on it.

    stu

    February 12, 2007

    It is worse than you think. The below link will let you see an actual poster the London Underground use. Big Brother is already here.

    http://www.thehumorarchives.com/joke/Scary_Poster

    Sue Burnett

    February 12, 2007

    Mike – I agree that strategies need to be in place to address the problems of global warming, but I’m not convinced that a vehicle tracking-based tax is the solution for a number of reasons.

    Firstly, most people I’ve spoken with regard this as yet another way this government is seeking new tax revenue.

    Next, there has been no serious attempt by the government to provide a viable alternative through an improved infrastructure of public transport, so most people will keep on driving (and contributing to the new tax) until they reach their personal limit on what they can afford.

    Finally, there is the issue of privacy – there are no guarantees on how to avoid misuse of the tracking information by this or any subsequent government.

    Having set up this website in the claim that the policymakers would listen to the voice of the people, it’s also been very disappointing that this petition has been completely (and expressly) ignored in making the decision to introduce this tax, even though the number of signatories is now in excess of a million.

    One recent article on the subject can be found at:

    “linktext”:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1361944.ece

    theagingfanboy

    February 12, 2007

    There’s tens of millions of us who didn’t sign the petition. My MP is a representative, not a delegate, and if 10 million people signed a petition to abolish speed limits I hope that MPs would ignore that too.

    Kev Mears

    February 12, 2007

    The carrot of improved infrastructure, needs to be combined with
    the stick of increased costs.

    I have misgivings about the idea of being tracked – but the
    principle of paying as you go seems fair.

    Are motorcycles and scooters to be included in this?

    Mike

    February 12, 2007

    Excellent! Open the blog up to comments and a whole range of
    viewpoints come tumbling out.

    WRT to tackling global warming, my view is that a whole range
    of methods will need to be tried.

    BTW, the EU commission proposed last week to get vehicle
    manufaturers to reduce the emission output from their vehicles.
    See http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/automotive/
    pagesbackground/pollutant_emission/index.htm

    More to the point, how many of us experienced the gridlock last
    Friday? S. Wales’s road system became a temporary car park. I
    accepted a lift only to find out later that taking my usual train
    would have been far superior. All goes to show what
    uncontrolled car usage can produce.

    The privacy matter is a tricky issue. Anyone interested in the
    legal aspect should follow this case: http://www.out-law.com//
    default.aspx?page=7740

    And for background reading on the surveillance society:
    http://www.out-law.com/page-7452

    Mark

    February 12, 2007

    I think people are letting this tracking argument escalate into something far bigger than it is. It is not as though they do not know where you are at the moment:

    While I think it would be better to implement this by just keeping check of peoples mileage (which has the added bonus of not using high-tech gadgetry so it would be cheaper to implement and not rely on computers actually working) I don’t mind it all together.

    Currently, to have your car on the road it has to be insured. To be insured you have to give information (that is correct) about your car. So insurance companies already know where your car is stored at night.

    Plus, if you drive to work, the insurance company needs to know this and where you work. So they know where your car is during the day.

    So, ‘the government’ already knows where your car is for roughly 70% of the day.

    Taking it a step further, many insurance companies now ask what type of roads you drive on. So it is possible for them to know where you car is at night, where it is during the day and which roads you take to get there and back. In affect for 95% of your time, your car’s position is known.

    We are already well ahead of the point some people are scared off. Personally, as was stated above: I would rather be on public transport that has CCTV, and I would rather not pay the same amount of car tax as some lazy git who drives everywhere.

    Darren Mumford

    February 12, 2007

    It’s not an issue of laziness. It’s an issue of civil liberties. The government can’t get things like the Tax Credits system right, so how will they run this more complex system.

    I don’t want people to know where I’ve been, how fast or slow I’ve been going.

    Yes, of course it makes sense to have a camera on a night bus – but not individual tracking devices on the movements of everyone in the country.

    It’s the most ridiculous idea yet from the arrogant and self satisfied party of government.

    theagingfanboy

    February 12, 2007

    Could I sum up some of the views here as:
    I want to drive where I want, when I want, as fast as I want, and *** the effect on anyone else, but Tony Blair won’t let me. Therefore he’s the devil?
    Ken Livingstone fought an election in London saying that he would introduce and then extend the congestion charge. The opposition said that they would scrap it. Ken won.
    Get out and vote and we’ll see who has the most support.

    JaffaG

    February 12, 2007

    response to theagingfanboy – your summary is rather harsh. Whilst some people may feel like that most are objecting to either the surveillance aspect or the tax aspect or both. Every car driver already pays for mileage used via fuel duty and on car ownership via road tax- however neither of these are hypothecated taxes and are not used to improve public transport.
    I personally do not have an issue with congestion charging as long as other forms of tax are modulated to mitigate this new charge and the money goes into public transport.
    If you wish to know my bias I am now a rail service user after having driven to work for a number of years- the choice is personal based on cost savings rather than any green agenda. Its more inconvenient, takes longer but I save a lot of money – trains do get delayed or cancelled however and when they turn up are filthy and overcrowded and this is the problem with public transport – it is unreliable and unhygenic- it is just as bad as road congestion from a personal view point and is sure to prevent people making the switch. As for over surveillance I leave that concern to the paranoid.
    To summarise – tax away and improve public transport with the dosh – and you’ll get my vote.
    Don’t improve the transport and my vote is moving.

    JaffaG

    February 12, 2007

    correction – i menat to say unhypothecated taxes of course – oops.

    Mike

    February 12, 2007

    Response to JaffaG – why is public transport unhygenic?

    I’ve been commuting to Treforest by train for the last 20 years and
    have a below average sickness record.

    Isn’t there some evidence to suggest that excessive hygiene leads
    to a poor immune response?

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