Thursday, 3 July 2008

Comments round-up, part I

Thanks to various readers who have kindly taken the trouble to comment on some of my posts, a selection of which follows:

-- Tim Roll-Pickering criticised several items in my piece about electoral systems, 14 reasons why only STV will do. I think he is mistaken, but did not immediately have time to respond to his points. Since it calls for a fair bit of anorak-ish detail, I will come back to this issue later in a new post.

-- Yaffle commented on my post Irritating women, suggesting that it looked as if I was irritated by women who held opinions, in which case it probably said more about me than about the women mentioned, in Yaffle's view.

I countered this by naming several women with opinions whom I do NOT find irritating.

-- Neil Harding commented on my post Roads vs. trains, in which I drew attention to Christian Wolmar's question, Why are roads favoured by the right and trains by socialists? Neil thinks that public transport is, by its nature, too egalitarian for the Right to swallow, and also they don't like it because it is one "product" which is not made more efficient by competition (I agree that is certainly true of local transport, less so of long-distance travel perhaps). He also noted the massive lobbying power of the car and oil industries, who have a huge vested interest in promoting private transport at the expense of public.

All very true, but the fact remains that, as Christian Wolmar suggested, we should be much more aggressive in highlighting the Right's lack of intellectual inconsistency in supporting public expenditure on roadbuilding while generally tending to be hostile towards government spending on railways or any other form of public transport. At the least, we should be demanding a "level playing field". If railways are expected to "pay their way" without subsidy, so should roads -- which means some form of charging for road use.

One could add that all hidden subsidies for air travel should stop, too, such as the fact that airlines pay no tax on their fuel.

-- John Band commented on my 8 reasons why the government must go. He said I was wrong to say that the government was building roads. I referred him to the Campaign for Better Transport, which shows how the current regime is pressing ahead with a massive roadbuilding programme, in complete contradiction to Gordon Brown's claimed environmental objectives.

-- In response to my post Gridlock and Road Rage, Lola defended the motorcar as the right answer for personal transport. He or she claimed that "The car enables everyone who has access to or owns one to make extremely flexible choices about their lives without waiting on the whim of a bureaucrat or other gauleiter - which is of course exactly why the left loonies hate them so much."

I pointed out in reply that, if you are going to insist on everyone hurtling around in their own personal tin box on wheels, you will have to abolish the whole concept of cities as we know them in Europe, which are the whole basis of our civilisation. (I suspect Lola might be an American.)

London, for instance, simply could not function but for the fact that the great majority of people travelling into its centre are NOT using their own individual vehicles.

To be continued .......

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