Democracy in Action?

I’ve received this chain email several times, in slightly different wordings:

If you drive a car, please read –

Sarah Kennedy was talking about this proposed car tax scheme on Radio 2. 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 but they didn’t tell anybody about it. Therefore at the time of Sarah’s comments only 250,000 people had signed it and 750,000 signatures are required for the government to at least take any notice.

Once you’ve given your details (you don’t have to give your full address, just house number and postcode will do), they will send you an email with a link in it. Once you click on that link, you’ll have signed the petition.

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.

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.

If you are concerned about this Orwellian plan and want to stop the constant bashing of the car driver, please sign the petition on No 10’s new website (link below) and pass this on to as many people as possible. Sign up if you value your freedom and democratic rights –

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

Please pass this on to anyone who owns a car/motorcycle. It affects them.

Being sent a chain email about something is never going to endear me to a cause.
According to the news this morning, the petition has topped 1 million signatures. Call me pedantic, but i don’t enjoy being cajoled into supporting something by such obvious hyperbole and exaggeration. Yes road pricing will mean some will pay more than others. But the numbers above are surely plucked out of thin air. Some will pay more, others less.

And am I being too “let them eat cake” by saying surely a non-working parent should be walking their children to school rather than irresponsibly adding to congestion? Any safety elephant who believes it’s not responsible to have children over 8 walking up to half a mile to school deserves a slap, even if it’s a financial one. Of course in rural areas people will need to drive to School, but also will pay lower per mile road charges because they won’t need to travel on busy urban roads! I don’t buy the “we all need to use cars” rhetoric. We don’t. All but a minority of us chose a lifestyle where we need to burn petrol. And yes if you break the speed limit you are as much a criminal as someone who nicks socks from Marks and Spencer.

As for there being a deadline and a quota for signatures- don’t make me laugh!

Please don’t imagine I’m in favour of road pricing. I’m just against disingenuous chain emails. There are many good reasons against road pricing, I just feel none of them are in the email above. My main objections are the unnecessary complexity of it all, and that it will be a nice loophole for lawless and irresponsible types to avoid tax.

The petition itself is more sensibly worded, so I’m not sure its more loony supporters should put you off like it has me!

James Graham has an interesting article on what should be done about the Downing Street Petitions and their implications for democracy.

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