Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Lib Dem transport policies show up Tory contradictions

Fraser Nelson has written a piece for the Spectator rubbishing today's Lib Dem policy announcement on transport. (See the Guardian for a more balanced account.)

No surprise there, though it is a typical Conservative article in that its depth of contempt for the existence of other views is so extreme that it makes you think the author would be happier living in a one-party state.

But there are two interesting points about this one. The first is that its argument is essentially Clarksonite: I want to get in my car and drive as far and as fast as I want and public transport is for losers. Brrm Brrm.

This is a reminder that large sections of the Tory Party have never bought into the Cameronite revolution and would like to dump all the touchy feely stuff as soon as possible - before the next general election if at all possible.

The second is that some of the comments on the article from Spectator readers are very sensible. One asks:

Why are the Tory-minded so obsessed with dependence on foreign oil (whereas trains can be run on electricity generated in this country)?

Or with breaking up old, established communities by means of vast modern roads?

Or with tearing up the countryside in order to put those roads on them?

Another reminder that there is nothing Conservative about support for the free market.


Alex S said...

Hence why some conservatives like Peter Hitchens are staunch supporters of the railways (and a nationalised rail system at that - sentimental though I think that is).

But I wouldn't say that advocacy of car use and motorists is necessarily 'free-market'. Roads, after all, are funded by general taxation and - except in the congestion charge zone in London - rationing therefore takes place by queue (congestion) and not by the price mechanism. It's amusing that 'free-market' conservatives tend to oppose road pricing in principle, out of an expectation that road use should always be free at the point of use (as distinct from very valid concerns about civil liberties depending on the operation of the system). Conservative? Socialist? Take your pick. But not particularly free-market.

And while I certainly don't welcome the countryside being concreted over with "vast modern roads", I think we need to recognise that car use is often indispensable in rural areas (as is the use of 4x4s, farm vehicles etc) - and it is the rural population that is most hard hit by high petrol prices and excise duties.

Anonymous said...

Norman Baker, the Lib Dem transport spokesman, said: ".... we are the only party with concrete proposals to build a transport system fit for the 21st century."

Could be misinterpreted!