Wednesday, April 13, 2005

On the road to nowhere

I wasn't surprised to read that they've set up speed cameras on the M4 motorway. We live in an era of gesture politics. Being seen to do something matters more than getting results. Speed cameras are sprouting like weeds on every street corner, and yet the road accidents continue to rise.

Despite all the evidence of motorway accidents being caused by factors other than speeding (tailgating, driver fatigue etc...) the Wiltshire local authority thinks it knows better, and has decided to prosecute anyone going over 70mph on the stretch of the motorway that falls under it's jurisdiction. Motorways (known as expressways in the U.S.) have traditionally been the one road that law enforcers have taken a more relaxed attitude to. They are not only the fastest roads but also the safest, carrying 20% of all road traffic but accounting for only 5% of accidents.

But in an era of slogans, the mantra "speed kills" has more impact (excuse the pun) than all the facts and figures that motoring groups can muster. As the speed camera lobby keep telling us, the slower you drive, the more likely you are to survive. In that case, why not revive the red flag act ? No one would actually get anywhere, but we'd all be alive. And why were at it, how about banning planes in case they crash, and banning trains in case they get derailed?

Progress is all about taking risks, if we never tooks risks, there would be no industrial revolution, no medical advances and no technological progress, we'd still be living in caves. Cars were invented in order to get us from A - B quickly. As a result, families have been brought closer, people can travel to where there are jobs, and our economy has prospered.

When it comes to transport, we are certainly living in an era of unprecedented progress...nearly all of it backwards!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Reflecting on the British Election

It's now a week into the election campaign and it's well...not a very exciting election. Mark Steyn sums up the atmosphere in today's Telegraph:

....none of us has any clear idea which unloved party will do the least effective job at further depressing the turnout of whatever unenthusiastic faction of its dwindling base is most unresistant to being cajoled to the polls.

With a turnout likely to be even lower than the Iraqi election, most voters are either convinced that Labour will win anyway or they're unconvinced that a new government will make any difference.

Here are the choices:

1. Labour Party: More of the same.
2. Conservative Party: Lots of radical changes promised but in the end more of the same.
3. Liberal Democrats: Lots of promises that will make you want to run out and vote for the two other parties.

The Tories have had ample opportunity to attack Labour but they're too scared. On law and order, health, education, immigration, tax, transport, you name it, Labour have performed miserably. Time after time, the Tories have had the opportunity to attack their weaknesses, and each time they shied away for fear of being radical.

It's like the 1970s all over again, the last time we had an era of concensus politics. Back then, it prevented anyone from tackling economic stagnation and industrial unrest. In today's political climate, the only belief is in holding the centre ground. It means the Tories can't do anything which makes them look too "right-wing", and it means Labour have to pretend they're right-wing (whilst appeasing their left-wing MPs).

We need somene who is a mould breaker (preferably not another Thatcher),but somone who believes in themself and who isn't scared to tackle those sacred cows, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, The EU and Immigration / Asylum Policy, someone who can unite the country behind them. Until such a person emerges, don't expect anything to change.