I drive a BMW 3 Series diesel tourer. I bought it second-hand a year ago. It was my first diesel since I switched from the old Landrover I used to drive when I was farming full-time. Main reason I bought a diesel was to cut down on the my motoring costs. For much of the last 15 years, the taxpayer had been paying for most of my fuel - but for the last year, I've been paying for it myself. This focuses the mind. Last week I filled up and it cost me £71. I couldn't believe it. It seems only a few weeks since I crossed the £60 barrier. So I'm on the side of the truckers. This post is my declaration of interest.
As always, its a matter of degree. In general, I'm in favour of what we might call a 'Green Tax Switch'. I've always accepted that the cost of motoring would rise - at a sustainable rate. What's happening at the moment is not sustainable. And if its a 'switch' where are the compensating tax reductions. And its no good just blaming the price of crude oil, or OPEC for restricting supply (which is untrue anyway) or speculators (which may have some truth). By far the biggest part of the increase is going straight to the Treasury in tax. So don't lets have any of this stuff about the Government not having the ability to cushion the increases.
A potentially bigger problem for the Government is its proposed changes to excise duty. This deadly little explosive is growing like a cancerous tumour, just waiting for the time when its true horror breaks out into the open. Again, if it was a 'Green Tax Switch', the Government could get away with it. But its not. As moving the excise duty burden from high polluting cars to less polluting cards, the Chancellor took the opportunity to hugely increase the total tax take - so its a 'tax take' not a 'tax switch'. And Government Minister, Phil Woolas is telling Kirsty Wark (with an insufferable arrogant tone) as I write this that the excise duty changes will definitely go ahead - but the Chancellor still has an 'open mind'. Kirsty looked a bit gobsmacked by the sheer brazenness of the doublespeak. Perhaps he was mimicking Rory Bremner.
Truth is that our Labour Government has got a very big problem. The taxpayers of this country have finally sussed them out. Suddenly, we've realised that Gordon Brown is a destructively high tax grabber. And he can't stop, because he's already spent it. Finding £71 every time I fill up my car is a bit of a headache for me. Gordon Brown is suffering from something much more serious and it could be terminal.