So this is how

democracy works in the United Kingdom. Instead of multi-page (or multi-box) petitions being delivered to Downing Street signed by Disaffected of Gloucester, we now have the ability to add our digital Lewinsky to petitions on the PM’s own website. Wowsers. What this means is that should the said petition get enough oxygen of publicity, the PM might say something. See for example the petition on road charging. Tony Blair (not sad to see the back of this celebrity wannabee liar, warmonger and lover of cronyism) turns around and says “thanks 2m people who signed this, but we’re going to do it anyway” (or words to that effect).

There was a time when elected officials formed a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Over time, this has become eroded to the point at which it’s become an unseemly struggle to climb the greasy pole to the top. Much is made over here of politicians who scoot a bit of Charlie or have a drunken orgy with some tarts. I myself could not care less. A PM could shag his way around Nuneaton on a Saturday night, but if he said that we couldn’t go to war with Iraq without a clear mandate, well that’s OK with me. I suspect most of the electorate feel this way – this is backed up by a recent vox pop based on the revelation by several members of Gordon Brown’s cabinet that they did a bit of puff at University. The reaction? So what – this was 20 years ago or more. In Alistair Darling’s case, he’s clearly lying to look cool. Now if he admitted dying his eyebrows, I’ll go for that.

This all leads me to the latest thing – congestion charging. FFS. Manchester City Council are the latest elected bunch of idiots that think this is the answer to the world’s problems. The council leader Richard Leese was quoted in 2005 as saying charging would be “disastrous” (or something equally as negative), now he’s all for it and thinks it’s the dogs bollocks. Great!

OK, so we’re all out of our cars because we’ve decided petrol is too expensive. Oh, and car insurance has rocketed because of “where there is blame, there’s a claim” merchants. Did I mention road tax? There’s that as well. Now the CC. So we’re out of our cars. Those close by could bus it or get on a bike. Then again, ah, the train! Oh no, we can’t do that because they’re full or we can’t afford it because fares keep rising than inflation can catch them. So we stay at home, spend bugger all money (even the Trafford Centre is inside the CC zone, they’re delighted!) and then over time, businesses leave (several major car dealerships already have plans in hand), customers follow them.

Then city dwellers leave, then shops close. As the tumbleweed rolls across the city because no-one can afford to leave the house any more, the city council say “well it isn’t the congestion charge”. Remember, to steal a cliche, “doing nothing is not an option”.

What a bunch of tits. Show me good, reliable, accessible and clean public transport, and we wouldn’t need cars so much, but stop punishing drivers.

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