In what conceivable way can the Budget be deemed to be Green? While motorists have seen costs rise recently, they are still doing jolly well compared with other transport users. I bumped into Lord Adonis a couple of days ago and he was moaning about the fact that bus useage had gone done by a third in ten years in Birmingham and yet National Express had pushed up fares by 10 per cent over the past year and yet were making handsome profits. What has Osborne done for them? Or, indeed, for rail users who are now going to suffer rises of inflation plus 3 per cent.
I want to avoid seeming like an anti-car fanatic but watching a whole lot of clearly very unhealthy and overweight people being interviewed in their cars about the fuel tax situation just reinforces my view that the car is the worst invention ever. I find even a short drive gives me backache and a long one makes me far stiffer than the 8km run I have just indulged in. In short, driving a car makes me feel old. Cars are unhealthy in so many ways, and yet we have successive governments – Labour was no better and had been pressing for a fuel tax cut – who are so in hock to the motoring lobby that they dare not point that out. So the proportion of tax in the cost of fuel has, according to Channel 4, fallen from more than 80 per cent to just over 60 per cent in the past couple of decades. Yet, the motoring lobby moans and moans and moans, while cars use up a resource that we all know is dwindling.
Therefore cutting duty on fuel, when so much else could have been done with the money – like helping rural transport, keeping libraries open or ensuring that lollipop ladies in Devon are not sacked – as well as not imposing a rise in air passenger duty – is a clear illustration of the direction the government is going in. It can be called lots of things, but Green is not among them.