Labour should oppose the governments Toll Tax….
At first, this is probably a position that needs some explanation; ostensibly, surely its a good thing, environmentally speaking at the very least, to discourage car use? However, the fiscal impact on our most hard-pressed households is a different matter. It needs to be understood that this proposal is the thin-end of the wedge. Of course, now it is limited to ‘new builds’ but does anybody seriously imagine that will be the case for very long? We all know that it won’t be – that, before very long, it will apply to existing roads and be justified on the grounds on doubtless much-needed repair work.
So, having established that the question has to be, what viable alternatives exist for those driven off the roads? Also, we have to ask, are the toll-tax pounds and pence being spent on improving those alternatives? The answer is no and again no; the money is being siphoned off by private contractors to line their own pockets.
In this context therefore, these proposals amount to additional form of heavy punitive taxation which is going to fall hardest on those lower down the scale. It won’t be just at the toll-gate either; haulers that use these routes will invariably pass on the extra cost to the consumer. So, you could go nowhere near being within a country mile of these things; stick to your willfully neglected and soon to be toll-heavy road and still end up paying through the nose for these new measures. It wont just be families that feel the pinch either; small business especially will suffer greatly as they are priced out of the fastest most efficient routes. Meanwhile, public transport will suffer the same indignation and if they do use the new routes will obviously pass on the cost again – thus catching people in a vice of rising costs and falling standards in public provision.
People considering supporting these measures on ‘green’ and shallow ‘progressive’ grounds should therefore consider if these are the ends we really want to achieve. Green politics unleavened by the full-blooded committment of Red politics to social justice and a all-out assault on the inequities of capitalism invariably produce bad outcomes for societies worse off. This policy doesn’t exist in some Never Never Land where beating people off the road will contribute to greater investment in public transport and therefore ‘greener’ outcomes. They exist in the real word, in the context the government gives them, and therefore must be judged in that light. Labour should oppose toll roads as what they are, a disgraceful tax hike targeting the 99% – once again to enrich not the country but the endlessly greedy 1%.