Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gordon Fuel Campaign

Regular readers of the local press in Gordon (or even those who tuned into Alex Salmond's SNP Conference Speech) will know that I've managed to make a few waves recently over the differences in the price of fuel between Aberdeen City and the Shire, notably between the supermarkets. It's a real bone of contention locally, where people can see little justification for the often 3-4p per litre price diference which there is over a distance of less than 20 miles.

However, the biggest contributory factor in high fuel prices is the tax that's levied by the government. A flat rate of duty, with VAT on top, means that almost three-quarters of the price we pay when we fill up goes straight to the treasury. And with prices now at £1.20 per litre or more (over £5.50 a gallon, or $7 per US gallon for my American readers) - something which impacts upon the cost of everything transported by road - it's rapidly becoming one of the defining issues of this election.

And so it was that yesterday, I was out on the stump in Huntly with a certain local MSP and some of our activists, highlighting the impact of high fuel prices on motorists:

[Pic credit: Alan Milligan]

Worryingly, the Lib Dems are swerving all over the road when it comes to their own tax policies. In a recent Politics Show interview, party leader Nick Clegg argued that the 3p duty rise planned for 1 April should go ahead, only to be flatly contradicted by his 'Chief of Staff' 15 minutes later in the Scottish segment of the programme - a shambles which was repeated a couple of days ago when Clegg and economic spokesman Vince Cable contradicted eachother over VAT increases [follow the link - it's a lovely picture!].

However, their confusion over fuel duty kind of pales into insignificance when compared with the policy that they really want to introduce - road pricing, with charges of up to 13p per mile for using a car.

It probably looked great over a breakfast table in, say, Twickenham, where you are spoiled for choice when it comes to public transport. However, in large parts of Scotland, not to say the Gordon constituency, a car is a necessity, whether for getting to work, for doing the shopping, or simply for meeting family obligations.

To give an example of what policy would mean for local families, think of someone who uses their car to commute the 30 mile round trip from Ellon, Oldmeldrum or Inverurie into Aberdeen. That would mean a bill of nearly £1,000 per year, just for getting to work. If you travel down the A96 each day from Huntly, that bill would be £2,300 every year. It's a policy which sits in complete defiance of the way life is lived in the North East, and indeed across swathes of Scotland where the Lib Dems currently have Westminster representation.

We're having a great campaign here in Gordon. In addition to continuing to fight for fair play on fuel, I look forward to contrasting my party's policy with that of the Lib Dems - who will simply end up pricing off the road the least well-off motorists, who also have the fewest practical alternatives to the car.

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