Odds and Ends #7: Labour’s excellent new slogan
Plus actual evidence that building houses reduces prices, how to save Bolton, and and a big problem with the Panama Canal.
It’s that time of the week again! Time for your regular round-up of interesting links, videos and other things I think you’ll like. But first – something else written by me that I think you’ll like.
What’s slightly scary about the smart cities backlash, which is also evident in some of the opposition to things like London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone, is that the big fight hasn’t even started yet. Because there’s an enormous political iceberg on the horizon that Britain is going to hit in the next decade or so – and no one in politics wants to talk too loudly about the fact that it is going to happen.
The problem is that of road pricing.
At the moment, Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) – or road tax as we tend to call it – and Fuel Duty (petrol tax) are major sources of government income. They don’t just pay for maintenance of the roads, but the cash we pay to use our cars feeds into the general tax pot.
The move towards all vehicles running on electricity will leave an increasingly large hole in the government’s tax revenues.
At the time of writing, electric car owners currently do not have to pay any VED at all, although they will be taxed at the lowest possible rate from 2025. And, of course, they don’t need to pay for any petrol either.
So how are we going to pay for stuff in the future? That’s why the expert consensus has broadly moved towards advocating a system of road pricing to replace the old tax regimes. And there’s a compelling logic to it, from a technocratic point of view.
If you enjoy my writing on here, you may also enjoy my writing in other places too. Like this piece, in which I draw a line connecting the mad conspiracy theories about Oxford’s congestion charging zone, which has attracted the attention of basically every weirdo on the internet, to a much bigger political fight to come, over how we’re going to replace vehicle and fuel taxes once everyone drives an electric vehicle.
Lizzi got selected!
You might remember that last week I endorsed my friend Lizzi Collinge, who was running to become the Labour candidate in Morecambe and Lunesdale. Now, I’m not saying that the all-important thumbs up from me, a man with a Substack who lives in Kent, is what finally swung it, but Lizzi did indeed win the selection battle, and she’s going to make an excellent MP1.
Now she just has to get elected. And given that she ‘only’ has to overturn a majority of 6000, and the seat has swung exactly with the largest party at every election since the seat was created… I’m hopefully we might be able to get someone with O’Malleyist sympathies into Parliament. Congratulations Lizzi!
And now for this week’s links… which includes some very welcome news about how all of my pre-existing YIMBY opinions are correct.
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