Bryan Forbes sees in the persecution of drivers a terrible metaphor for England’s decline: ministers hide in limousines while the police waste their time on minor road offences
Do others like me wake every day angry that we are unwilling members of a persecuted majority? At the risk of becoming a serial whiner, it seems to me that the unholy trinity of the Treasury, local authorities and the police forces are intent on intimidating and fleecing anybody who has the effrontery to own and drive a car. So vindictive and petty are some of the laws framed specifically against motorists that I am resigned to the fact that any time now the Ministry of Transport will be renamed the Ministry of Fear.
I learned to drive during army service in 1943, passing my test on a Bedford three-ton truck with a beast of a clutch, and have been driving a variety of cars, large and small, ever since with, happily, a totally clean licence. So why am I now so fearful whenever I get behind a steering wheel? My present car is eight years old and I have just renewed the licence for £220 (bumped up another fiver from last year). Today I learned that next year a car of this vintage will be taxed at £440 — yet another piece of duplicity from the Treasury, who hid this new stealth tax in the fine print of the last Finance Act. Thus when I and many others wish to exchange our old but roadworthy cars for new models we will be made victims of negative equity, the cars worth less than the tax disc.
I recall swooning many years ago when we woke to the realisation that the price of a gallon of petrol had risen to £1, even though in that distant time there was somebody on the forecourt to insert the nozzle and wash our windscreens with a smile.