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“When was the last time we heard of bus users against tram users?” Brompton Bike Hire chief blasts Rishi Sunak’s “cyclists versus drivers” rhetoric as “an artificial construct”

The hire bike company’s managing director says he hopes the prime minister’s pro-motoring “wedge politics” will “blow over given time”

The managing director of Brompton Bike Hire has become the latest voice within the cycling industry to criticise Rishi Sunak’s recently-announced batch of “proudly pro-car” policies, describing the prime minister’s attempt to halt the so-called ‘war on motorists’ as “wedge politics” and an “artificial construct” which will “hopefully blow over given time”.

Speaking at the same event, the CEO of a community health centre in Birmingham, which is currently working alongside Brompton to get more local women on bikes, said that Sunak’s ‘Plan for Motorists’ is a “short-term vote winner” that “in the long run will cost everybody”.

Last week, Transport Secretary Mark Harper’s pledge to introduce a number of pro-motorist policies at the Conservative Party conference, outlined by the prime minister a few days before, including a review of 20mph speed limits (and opposition to their “blanket use”) and low-traffic neighbourhoods, was roundly condemned by cycling and active travel campaigners, with Cycling UK accusing the government of being “intent on undermining” some of the “most successful transport policies of recent years” in an “ill-fated attempt to win support” ahead of the next general election.

> Cycling charity accuses Conservatives of "ill-fated attempt to win" votes with pro-motoring policies "undermining" active travel success

Julian Scriven, managing director of Brompton Bike Hire, joined that chorus of disapproval while speaking at an event in Birmingham, where the company joined forces with a local community centre cycling club to offer extended loans of their folding bikes to women from deprived areas, in a bid to encourage daily cycling.

Referring to Sunak’s ‘Plan for Motorists’, and the relative underfunding of active travel measures in the West Midlands, Scriven told Birmingham Live: “We have the lowest spend per capita in England on funding cycling and activity.

“I think wedge politics of making it cyclists versus drivers is an artificial construct. When was the last time we heard of bus users against tram users? Hopefully it will blow over given time.

“I have been working to get more people cycling now, if you want to get people from low-income households or ethnic communities into cycling, it’s real work and takes massive commitment.”

> Rishi Sunak’s ‘Plan for Motorists’ will “rob people of choice” and force them to drive, say cycling and walking campaigners

Naseem Akhtar, CEO of Saheli Hub, whose cycling club – which is focused on teaching South Asian women of all ages to ride a bike to improve their physical and mental health – received 15 bikes from Brompton, with a further 35 loaned to locals, agreed that Sunak’s pro-car policies could have a devastating long-term impact on the health of people from lower-income backgrounds.

“The majority of the community live in congested areas which impacts their health,” she says. “If more people get active, you are saving the whole system including the NHS and long-term costs of coronary heart disease and diabetes.”

Responding to the prime minister’s proposals, she added: “I think this is a short-term vote winner for him and his backbenchers, but in the long run it will cost everybody.

“Life expectancy in the neighbourhoods we operate in, most men don't even reach 65 which is shocking. It should be a scandal. As soon as men over 60 pass away you plunge the family into poverty, not just because the majority are still breadwinners but it's the impact on the whole family.”

> Chris Boardman urges Rishi Sunak to stick with "fantastic" pro-cycling plans, admits concerns with language of "war on motorists" policies

Last week, after the Conservative politician unveiled his much-debated ‘Plan for Motorists’, national active travel commissioner Chris Boardman urged Sunak to “just stick with” policies promoting active travel, while Cycling UK’s chief executive Sarah Mitchell called on the government to produce a plan that considers all modes of transport, not just for those who drive cars.

Mitchell said: “When Beeching took an axe to local railways in the 1960s, we were robbed of the freedom to choose how we travel. The government’s reported ‘plan for the motorist’ feels like history repeating itself.

“We need a holistic plan for how people can travel — not a plan that zooms in on one particular mode of transport. A plan that gives us the freedom to choose how we travel, maximising our ability to opt for healthy, cheap, and convenient options.

“Better public transport, and safer ways for people to cycle and walk are entirely compatible with driving. Focusing on one way of travelling is like trying to complete a jigsaw with half the pieces missing.

“No. 10 seems intent on undermining some of the government's most successful transport policies of recent years. Ministers should be proud of their achievements on walking and cycling rather than ditching them in an ill-fated attempt to win support in advance of the general election.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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31 comments

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 4 months ago
10 likes

I have read articles on Road CC and elsewhere on 'induced demand'. Creating more roads and more 'favourable conditions' for motor vehicles just increases congestion and pollution. You can't ever build enough road space. The only way, as Sarah Mitchell points out, is to have an holistic approach. 

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chrisonabike replied to BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 4 months ago
10 likes

Correct. At best it makes things easier for drivers - so more driving takes place (or drivers are enabled to drive a section at the minimum speed limits)! However there are bottlenecks elsewhere in the system so overall the improvement is small - or there's just more pressure at the remaining bottlenecks.

Quite often all that happens is a temporary improvement followed by the new space filling up.

The problem with motor traffic is that it is an extremely space-inefficient mode AND it tends to suppress other modes.

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Muddy Ford | 4 months ago
7 likes

Winning votes might be a by-product of Sunak's direction, however I doubt it's the main reason.

Infosys (owned by his wife's family) recently signed a $1.5bn deal with BP and a huge deal with Shell. The BP deal is Infosys's largest deal ever.

BP and Shell benefit from the new north sea oil licences, given on the pretence of benefiting the UK. 

The oil will not benefit UK because it will be sold to highest bidder. Motorists using their cars more could increase the demand and therefore the price and profit.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Muddy Ford | 4 months ago
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Muddy Ford wrote:

The oil will not benefit UK because it will be sold to highest bidder. Motorists using their cars more could increase the demand and therefore the price and profit.

Other than the billions that filter into the economy either through employment or taxation etc

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Car Delenda Est replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
11 likes

1) Show us the correlation between employment and car ownership
2) Show us where these billions go aside from partially funding the motorism subsidy that is the fuel tax freeze.
Motorists get more from the tax payer than they give and it's the rest of us who pay for it with no benefit.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Car Delenda Est | 4 months ago
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Car Delenda Est wrote:

1) Show us the correlation between employment and car ownership 2) Show us where these billions go aside from partially funding the motorism subsidy that is the fuel tax freeze. Motorists get more from the tax payer than they give and it's the rest of us who pay for it with no benefit.

I don't know what the correlation between employment and car ownership has to do with it?

2. Your tax paid does not "automatically" go toward subsidising the freeze (it should be lower anyway, given the UK taxes fuel at one of the highest rates). If you break it down, yes, a tiny fraction would but it's not the whole of it. Some even goes towards the NHS you know, and subsidising low bus fares, building cycle lanes and so on. Therefore more O&G means more tax, and more money to finance cycling infra, just for one example. 

You also suggest that "the rest of us" fund motorists - do you mean specifically people who do not drive at all? Because there are very, very few people who could say they do not need, nor drive a car, ever.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
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Speaking of fuel duty, I have just seen this - funny that people are blaming the tories all the time. 

The high tax rate in the UK can be traced back to John Major’s government when an annual environment tax of “at least 3% above inflation” was introduced on motor fuel. This was then later set at 5% above inflation and continued until it was scrapped by Gordon Brown after protests in 2000. 

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mattw replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
6 likes

The current Govt has frozen fuel duty in cash terms since 2011, which is a real terms cut of around 40%.

We need our tax revenue from somewhere, rather than further cutting public services (Local Gov by about half since 2011) with the hope of buying the next election, trying to ignore Govt borrowing (the Public Sector deficit is still £100bn a year more or less), and putting off difficult decisions until after 2025 (eg tax setup on electric vehicles).

Traditional policy has been to keep income taxes artificially low,  exclude some from tax (eg limit IHT) and try to cut spending to pander to the Daily Mail demographic. I'd say this is now years past its sell-by date, and we need to learn lessons - especially from places like Switzerland.

The fuel duty freeze since 2011 has cost £100bn+, and we are now closer to the European Average than the top.

IMO a  restoration to the real terms figure for 2011 is appropriate, which is an increase of something like 20-25p per litre (24p to 30p including VAT), especially as fuel prices have fallen by 40p per litre between 2022 and 2023. That would be a suitable contribution towards the recovery of public finances.

I'm not especially worried by the self-serving, incompetent, dishonest blatherings of the current Govt, as they are going to get a monumental spanking at the next Election - the unfortunate aspect is that they will do huge damage whilst trying to save their butts.

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Rendel Harris replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
10 likes
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Because there are very, very few people who could say they do not need, nor drive a car, ever.

46% of households in London do not own or have access to a van or a car. Given that that's nearly half the population of a city of nine million people, that's not really "very, very few", is it? Across the UK the figure is 22%, so about 15 million people.

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Muddy Ford replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
3 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Because there are very, very few people who could say they do not need, nor drive a car, ever.

46% of households in London do not own or have access to a van or a car. Given that that's nearly half the population of a city of nine million people, that's not really "very, very few", is it? Across the UK the figure is 22%, so about 15 million people.

You missed a couple of million..  1 

https://www.statista.com/statistics/304290/car-ownership-in-the-uk/#:~:t...

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
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Rendel Harris wrote:

46% of households in London do not own or have access to a van or a car. Given that that's nearly half the population of a city of nine million people, that's not really "very, very few", is it? Across the UK the figure is 22%, so about 15 million people.

You'd be very narrow minded to look only at London, which is a major issue with Westminster as a whole. 

Across the UK the figure is 20.7% in 2022 according to the below. Which isn't exactly very many either, considering there are a lot of households with more than one car. To suggest that these "fund motorists" is not true. 

The funds help upkeep of roads so that food can be transported to shops, and essential deliveries can be made for example. 

It's narrow minded just to think that you shouldn't have to fund motorists. 

https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/cheap-car-insurance/number-cars-great-brita...'t,don't%20have%20a%20car.

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Rendel Harris replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
8 likes
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Across the UK the figure is 20.7% in 2022 according to the below. Which isn't exactly very many

Seventeen million people "isn't very many"? Can we ignore Brexit then, that's the number that voted for it.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
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Rendel Harris wrote:

Seventeen million people "isn't very many"? Can we ignore Brexit then, that's the number that voted for it.

That's not exactly the point is it. 

Conservatives won the general election so it's up to them what to do then. 

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Rendel Harris replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
8 likes
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

That's not exactly the point is it.

The point is that it's entirely ludicrous for you to say that 17 million people isn't "exactly very many" when that is exactly the number that completely changed the course and history of the country; it doesn't matter which side of that particular debate you are on, it's farcical to say that 17 million isn't a very significant number indeed.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
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Rendel Harris wrote:
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

That's not exactly the point is it.

The point is that it's entirely ludicrous for you to say that 17 million people isn't "exactly very many" when that is exactly the number that completely changed the course and history of the country; it doesn't matter which side of that particular debate you are on, it's farcical to say that 17 million isn't a very significant number indeed.

That is the point you are making, and have bent/twisted the words to make that point. 

My point was that there are, and I repeat, there are very, very few people who could say they do not need, nor drive a car, ever.

If you don't own a car, are you saying that not one aspect of your life depends on a car being used in some way? And even if you could, perhaps you could explain to the much greater percentage of car owners/drivers, how we are meant to live and not drive? Nor for that matter use buses (which use roads of course) or trucks etc. 

You don't seem to realise how much of the economy (outside of London at least) depends on motorised travel in some way, shape or form. Therefore, cheaper motoring has a much wider, and better effect for the economy and people as a whole. 

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Car Delenda Est replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
6 likes
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

That is the point you are making, and have bent/twisted the words to make that point. 

My point was that there are, and I repeat, there are very, very few people who could say they do not need, nor drive a car, ever.

If you don't own a car, are you saying that not one aspect of your life depends on a car being used in some way? And even if you could, perhaps you could explain to the much greater percentage of car owners/drivers, how we are meant to live and not drive? Nor for that matter use buses (which use roads of course) or trucks etc. 

You don't seem to realise how much of the economy (outside of London at least) depends on motorised travel in some way, shape or form. Therefore, cheaper motoring has a much wider, and better effect for the economy and people as a whole. 

And why should I have to pay extra taxes for motorists' benefit? If I have my shopping delivered by a supermarket van then I already pay the taxes for that in the cost of the food and the delivery.

Speaking of twisting words: who said you were supposed to give up your car? You should just have to pay a fair share of the taxes instead of being parasites.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Car Delenda Est | 4 months ago
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Car Delenda Est][quote=Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

And why should I have to pay extra taxes for motorists' benefit? If I have my shopping delivered by a supermarket van then I already pay the taxes for that in the cost of the food and the delivery. Speaking of twisting words: who said you were supposed to give up your car? You should just have to pay a fair share of the taxes instead of being parasites.

So the fuel duty I pay (which a non-car owning person doesn't) is not an extra tax for the motorist for example?

I wasn't twisting any words. I didn't suggest that you would have to give up your car - was asking how we could

 

 

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chrisonabike replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
5 likes

What does fuel duty actually cover?

(It's been a while since I dug through the numbers so grateful if someone has recent ones).

It used to be proudly pointed out that all the "road tax" taxes specific to vehicles covered the cost of the roads budget.  But of course that doesn't include "negative externalities" like the direct (crashes) and indirect (pollution especially particulates, effect of sendentrism, suppression of active travel) etc.  (Even the Institute for Fiscal Studies have covered this e.g. in their 2012 look at how we might need to change taxation).

There have been various analyses on the idea that motorist is subsidising others via their tax take suggesting that is indeed a myth (e.g. here).

The other argument "it's the engine that drives the economy" is ... more complex.  I've seen the Dresden study (across EU) which estimated motoring as a net cost to everyone.  Clearly driving makes some people vast sums of money, and there are a range of jobs associated with it.  Both are powerful reasons for politicians to favour it.  However, the same could be said for the e.g. tobacco industry (which more people would question - Rishi Sunak for one!)

Currently most societies are more or less dependent on motoring.  However that is neither set in stone nor is the degree to which we rely on it.  Motoring is an inefficient transport mode in many ways - aside from the other down-sides.  The flexibility of driving is a major point in its favour.  (Flexibility - given you have roads of a certain quality everywhere and a network of fuel infrastructure).  It's also a fact that as provision for motoring increased at a certain level it catalysed the further takeup and reliance on motoring.  (The same isn't as true of e.g. trains or boats).

We forget that political (not just economic) decisions were made to get us where we are.  (And various other factors that feed in like use by the military, our expectations of the emergency services etc.  When we feel threatened or in danger all other considerations are thrown out of the window!)

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Rendel Harris replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
5 likes
thisismyusername wrote:

Because there are very, very few people who could say they do not need, nor drive a car, ever.

*Shown that 20+% of the population, 17 million people, can say exactly that*

thisismyusername wrote:

perhaps you could explain to the much greater percentage of car owners/drivers, how we are meant to live and not drive?

You want to be careful, you'll put your back out shifting the goalposts like that. Now if you follow your usual playbook, you'll say that I'm shifting the goalposts and twisting what you said, whereas in fact all I have done is provided you with a simple, verifiable and unarguable fact that proves that your original statement was nonsense.

Really, I mean, we all get it, you love cars, believe you can't live without them and don't want to see any restrictions on them, the question is why you are bothering to stink up a cycling website with such opinions? Why not go somewhere they are welcome rather than roundly derided? Seems a strange sort of trolling masochism. Is it just the attention you crave, sweetheart? I'm sure there are better and more productive ways of finding it if you look hard.

 

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
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Rendel, I made it clear to all but you (perhaps because of your low IQ) that you were making the point about it being low. 

My point was that there are very few, and I repeated it, that there are very very few people that don't depend on a car. 

And you have resorted to your usual playbook of accusing me of trolling/wasting time. 

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Rendel Harris replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
3 likes
thisismyusername wrote:

Rendel, I made it clear to all but you (perhaps because of your low IQ) that you were making the point about it being low. 

My point was that there are very few, and I repeated it, that there are very very few people that don't depend on a car.

I was making the point about it being low? I think you'll find I was making the point about 17 million people who do not depend on cars not being a low number and not being "very very few". The irony of you accusing me of having a low IQ is stupendous when you can make the ludicrous statement that "very very few" people don't depend on a car when clearly 17 million don't. And you are a textbook troll and you know it, you simply come to this site in order to antagonise people and get a reaction, you've been banned for it already, virtually your first post on this site (in your previous guise) was to say that you were only here to wind up, as I recall, this "Leftwing Corbynista anti-EU [sic] bunch of toffee-nosed snobs."

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Backladder replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
5 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
thisismyusername wrote:

Rendel, I made it clear to all but you (perhaps because of your low IQ) that you were making the point about it being low. 

My point was that there are very few, and I repeated it, that there are very very few people that don't depend on a car.

I was making the point about it being low? I think you'll find I was making the point about 17 million people who do not depend on cars not being a low number and not being "very very few". The irony of you accusing me of having a low IQ is stupendous when you can make the ludicrous statement that "very very few" people don't depend on a car when clearly 17 million don't. And you are a textbook troll and you know it, you simply come to this site in order to antagonise people and get a reaction, you've been banned for it already, virtually your first post on this site (in your previous guise) was to say that you were only here to wind up, as I recall, this "Leftwing Corbynista anti-EU [sic] bunch of toffee-nosed snobs."

Frustrating as it can be leaving their "fake news" ramblings uncorrected the only solution is:-

D N F T T!

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
0 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

I was making the point about it being low? I think you'll find I was making the point about 17 million people who do not depend on cars not being a low number and not being "very very few". The irony of you accusing me of having a low IQ is stupendous when you can make the ludicrous statement that "very very few" people don't depend on a car when clearly 17 million don't. And you are a textbook troll and you know it, you simply come to this site in order to antagonise people and get a reaction, you've been banned for it already, virtually your first post on this site (in your previous guise) was to say that you were only here to wind up, as I recall, this "Leftwing Corbynista anti-EU [sic] bunch of toffee-nosed snobs."

I'm not sure what about the above that have commented is exactly "textbook trolling" but it sets the bar pretty low for trolling. From now on, someone you don't agree with is a troll then.

And bringing out your usual accusations of trolling and banning is another example of your low brow antics. 

You're the troll here, not me. 

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Car Delenda Est replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
5 likes
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

there are very, very few people who could say they do not need, nor drive a car, ever.

When did 17 million people become very very few?

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Muddy Ford replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 4 months ago
4 likes
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:
Muddy Ford wrote:

The oil will not benefit UK because it will be sold to highest bidder. Motorists using their cars more could increase the demand and therefore the price and profit.

Other than the billions that filter into the economy either through employment or taxation etc

Sunak specifically stated the reason for granting the new licences was to ensure oil from UK waters would mean UK wouldn't have to import oil. No mention of tax or employment. He obviously believes most people in the UK are stupid enough to believe that bollocks. But then again, so many people believe their fuel tax and VED gives them more rights to the road, and that the money they pay more than covers the cost of providing for car usage. Idiocracy.  

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Muddy Ford | 4 months ago
0 likes
Muddy Ford wrote:

 

Sunak specifically stated the reason for granting the new licences was to ensure oil from UK waters would mean UK wouldn't have to import oil. No mention of tax or employment. He obviously believes most people in the UK are stupid enough to believe that bollocks. But then again, so many people believe their fuel tax and VED gives them more rights to the road, and that the money they pay more than covers the cost of providing for car usage. Idiocracy.  

Well, the money that filters into the economy then is a pleasant by product of any extra in-house production then 

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the little onion replied to Muddy Ford | 4 months ago
9 likes

Idon't think it is as strategic as that. It's just the fact that their election strategy has one aim - play the culture wars card as hard as possible, and get the angry daily mail voters to come out and vote for you. Cyclists are on the list of 'enemies of the people' in the culture wars.

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Car Delenda Est replied to Muddy Ford | 4 months ago
4 likes

Good points but not sure if it's proof of conspiracy or just a reflection of the fact that wealth is concentrated and the wealthy do business with eachother.

Either way it shows that the wealthy will inevitably have a conflict of interest that should bar them from politics in any capacity.

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Muddy Ford replied to Car Delenda Est | 4 months ago
2 likes
Car Delenda Est wrote:

Good points but not sure if it's proof of conspiracy or just a reflection of the fact that wealth is concentrated and the wealthy do business with eachother. Either way it shows that the wealthy will inevitably have a conflict of interest that should bar them from politics in any capacity.

I don't think it's conspiracy, it's in your face corruption. Boris ousted by a stab in the back (who was holding the knife?), Sunak get's in and almost immediately grants new oil licences followed shortly by a statement of being on the side of motorists in a claimed war.

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Jetmans Dad replied to Muddy Ford | 4 months ago
4 likes
Muddy Ford wrote:

Boris ousted by a stab in the back ...

You are free to believe that with all your might, but the reality is that Boris was ousted because even Tory MPs had had enough and realised his behaviour was so egregrious he could no longer continue. 

Partygate and the Pincher situation are only the two most obvious cases. 

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