The broadcaster, writer and self-proclaimed defender of motorists’ rights Jeremy Clarkson has a Group of fans on Facebook who would like to see him as Prime Minister. It has an astonishing 300,000 members proving beyond doubt that the “Petrolhead Party” is a force in British politics. Be scared, be very, very scared.

The fallacious starting position of Clarkson and his ilk is that there is some God-given right to own a car, preferably one as thirsty as possible, and then to drive it as fast as they like wherever they like without the interference of any pesky authorities. This positioning leads Clarkson to rant against any tax that can directly or even remotely inhibit his “right” to drive. A particular bête noir of Clarkson is the presence of speed cameras on our roads – his arguments are too facile to repeat here and are easily demolished.

So Clarkson is an amiable right wing polemicist who rants from the edges of society and is largely ignored? Not at all. Aside from the 300,000 fans on Facebook there are disturbing signs that his saloon bar bluster   is moving into the mainstream of thinking in the Conservative Party in the country. Take for example the recent announcement by the Conservative  run “Swindon Borough Council” that they want to remove funding for speed cameras. Now I have been driving in Britain for more than 40 years and I can say unequivocally that the advent of speed cameras has made our roads infinitely safer and hugely reduced road accidents, injuries and deaths. Even the white vans these days slow down when they enter a 30 mph zone because they know that if they don’t a camera will catch them and that it will cost them. Now if a white van driver who might never respond to cajoling or    persuasion or reason responds to the big stick of a potentially heavy fine that’s OK by me. In our culture there is an imperative that if something is not expressly prohibited then it is allowed, and if it is not properly policed then it will be ignored. Speed cameras are a stick to beat errant motorist with – and quite right too.

The petrolheads of Swindon Borough Council will no doubt become the heroes of the Clarkson gang   and many a pint and a G&T will be drink in the hostelries of this Tory town as toasts to their Council and its wisdom. Until, perhaps, the road accidents start to rise again and the casualty departments have to start to admit those maimed by idiot drivers for whom speed is their rush. And will the certain rise in road deaths be on the councillors consciences? Don’t bet on it.

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