Thursday, July 22, 2004

A principled stand

It seems it’s all right to stand up and be counted when it comes to protesting about Council tax, but one whiff of a suggestion about disagreeing with the prevailing mantras on mobile phone or "speeding" and out come the zealots, foaming at the mouth.

One such was M E Wright, of Grove Road, Harrogate, who is definitely one of the "red flag" brigade. He was moved to write to the Yorkshire Post:, as follows:

I started with a sneaking feeling of admiration for Richard North who took a principled (if ill-advised) stand in withholding the police precept on his council tax bill, following his being burgled five times. Reading on, I saw that his other "principled stands" were related to speeding and driving while using a mobile phone.

Burglars go about their nefarious business with no thought for the distress caused to their victims. So, too, do drivers like Dr North, but there is an important difference: burglars rarely kill or injure; arrogant and boorish drivers are killing every day of the year.

What is interesting about this letter is that Wright manages to deduce from a few words in a newspaper the precise nature of my character, deciding that I am "arrogant and boorish". Note also, the use of the word "victim", in an attempt to grab the high ground. I "speed", therefore I am a killer of babies and old ladies.

Anyhow, here is my response:


It was really clever of Mr Wright to divine what he did from what he considers to be my "principled stands" related to speeding and driving while using a mobile phone. Not least, from the limited information he had available to him, he infers that drivers like me go about my business "with no thought for the distress caused to their (presumably my) victims".

I have to say though that his real skill was packing in so many errors with so much prejudice into such a short letter.

Firstly, my stand on "speeding" was not on speed limits, per se, but on the outdated and irrelevant motorway speed limit. This was introduced in 1965 when the average family car of the time could only just exceed 70 mph. But cars are faster now, better equipped, safer in all respects – and motorways are also better designed and equipped.

I take the view that, if there was a safety case in 1965 for restricting the top speed of motor cars to 70 mph, it no longer applies nearly 40 years later. The law as it stands is an unnecessary and unreasonable restriction on the freedom of the individual.

Secondly, my other protest was not about using mobile phones while driving, but about the police inventing an offence before parliament had decided to make it so, and then fining me for something which was not then against the law. Call me old fashioned if you like, but I believe our parliament should make the law.

Finally, as to my "victims", in thirty years of driving, and nearly a million miles behind the wheel, I have only caused one accident, when I collided with a parked car in Harrogate town centre while driving at about 10 mph. I have never injured anyone in my whole career and it is 27 years since I last had an accident.

Perhaps, therefore, Mr Wright might wish to consider whether he and many others might be better off if there were more drivers like me on the road. 

You want "arrogant and boorish"? Mister… I ain’t even started.


At 8:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid you really do come across as arrogant, on the basis of your musings here.

At 9:45 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re Speed Limits and no Mobiles whilst driving.

There is a simple choice to be made:

Should people be able to drive at whatever speed they feel comfortable at /want under any circumstances they see fit.


Should there be considered and researched limits applied where it is felt necessary to do so for the protection of other road users.

If you choose option one, great, drive as fast as you want whnever you want, regardless of the consequences to others.

If you choose option two then limits need to be set and enforced. If they are not enforced then there is no point in setting them.

At 9:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are aware of the limits or fail to take notice of them then the only person to blame if you are penalised for breaking them is yourself.

If the same number of people werer murdered by strangers every week as those who die in crashes there would be a national out cry, however because road deaths are so common place they hardly get a look in.

At 5:14 pm, Anonymous DWMF said...

I have long since thought that the national speed limit can safely be raised to 100 mph. As Richard says, cars are faster, safer and stronger now. The equivalent to 70 back in 1967 is now more like 120.

At 8:22 pm, Anonymous David Ward said...

I read with interest and empathy your comments about council tax and police. What a shame that you attempt to make the case for driving at speed because it is "now much safer to do so" and
"the law as it stands is an unnecessary and unreasonable restriction on the freedom of the individual".
Every piece of research I have ever seen suggests that the greater the speed the greater the damage in an accident. In this
"fuck you I do what I want cos that's what Magaret said we could" age we live in, I would siggest that it's the duty of every sane minded free thinker to support measures which protect others, not endanger them.


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