A change of tactics?
- Interesting point being made by Stephen Joseph of Transport 2000 on Radio 4
recently. This was relayed to me second hand. What I understand him to have
been saying is that one of the reasons the ABD (Association of British
Drivers) has been so successful given its small membership is that
organisations like his (e.g. Transport 2000) have got close enough to
government in recent years that they have not considered it appropriate to
respond to the rhetoric of ABD who will duck and weave in the word style
game of pressure group politics in a way that you cannot do once you go
"respectable" because those in power are now - at last - listening and
acting on research based policy advise.
Joseph was suggesting that ignoring the ABD as irritants may have been a
mistake. He may even have been suggesting that the rhetorical feistiness
that characterised the anti-roads lobbies of the 1980s and early 1990s ought
to be revisited in rebutting the philosophising of the ABD who, among other
things, claim to represent car drivers, to be defending freedom (pleeeeze!)
and even the safety of motorists.
We can ponder the positive sign that these people's shrillness is a sign of
their weakness, but need to recognise how being a small dedicated band can
be exhilarating. Now that those of us who see liberty and quality of life as
intimately linked to the reduction of road speed and curbs on the excesses
of car use are in a growing majority (including a majority of drivers - 65%
at last count supporting tighter enforcement of speed limits) but we risk
becoming politically outpaced by the racier tactics of the ABD anoraks who
are strongly supported by a quietly spoken establishment of influential
upper middle class people who see these trends infringing on their right to
speed through urban and rural communities throwing a few sovereigns out of
the window to silence the annoying proles whose lives they are blighting and
making common cause with the boy racer fraternity to show how genuinely
democratic they are. Ha ha!