Judy Terry: The demands to make car travel more expensive ignore the political and economic realities

  • Date: 21/12/20
  • Judy Terry, Conservative Home

Judy Terry is a marketing professional and a former local councillor in Suffolk.

Lifelong Conservatives are not alone in losing patience with Downing Street’s arrogant dictatorship, and its headline-grabbing policies, often based on questionable data, but designed to appease a minority of campaigners who don’t suffer the financial constraints of the rest of us. Instead of patronising and banning, it’s time to engage with members of the public, and trust them.

The Chancellor’s frank assessment of the economic challenges ahead, as Government borrowing hits record levels was a wakeup call; lavish unnecessary spending has to be brought under control, so let’s hope – as he joked he would – he revokes the Prime Minister’s credit card. Constant policy changes are expensive, undermining confidence within business, the population and public sector, inhibiting growth, which will be crucial over the coming years. A case in point is the PM’s sudden ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars in just nine years’ time, instead of the original 2040 deadline.

This decision will impact the poorest and most disadvantaged beyond the Westminster bubble: the ‘left behind’ in the Red Wall and rural areas. For example, Suffolk is a net contributor to the Treasury, but, as I saw first hand in my ten years as a councillor and primary school governor, it has areas of serious deprivation beyond the posh weekend homes by the seafront. 75,000 people, including 22,000 in older age groups, are in income deprivation; average salaries are around £28,000, although a lot of employment is seasonal. This compares with £25,000 a year in Doncaster, and a national average of £38,600 (£33,300 for women).

MPs, of course are paid £81,932 a year, plus expenses and allowances for additional responsibilities, as well as generous financial entitlements at the end of their ‘service’. It is also now evident that many receive additional income from a range of other employment, as directors or advisers to major corporations – opportunities not available to ‘ordinary people’.

Unlike Ed Miliband, the ‘two kitchens’ Doncaster North MP, or Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, with his private plane (making him part of the one per cent of the world’s population responsible for harmful emissions) and £44,000 electric car, the majority of people are likely to struggle with daily expenses. 

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