In 1997 Tony Blair was looking for Mondeo Man’s vote. At this election motorists could again be pivotal. Ordinary drivers, Focus Families if that isn’t an alliteration too far, are feeling the pinch with petrol prices going through the roof. Andrew Hawkins, Chairman of the polling company ComRes, has argued that if “the Conservatives can turn this issue to their advantage it could be the electoral driver they need to seal that deal”, as it can motivate key groups like skilled manual and clerical workers to turn out for them. With that in mind, I find it a little strange that the Conservatives don't appear to have addressed motorists at all in their new "contract". Motorists have been let down on a number of fronts and any party that campaigns on plans to change that over the next week could be rewarded with the keys to 10 Downing Street.
The underlying reason why petrol prices are so high is the massive rates of tax on motor fuel. As of February this year, 65 per cent of the price of unleaded petrol at the pump is tax. That rate is only higher in two countries in the entire EU27. For diesel, 64 per cent of the pump price is tax which gives Britain the highest taxed diesel in Europe. That taxation is far more than is needed to pay for road spending or to account for road transport’s greenhouse gas emissions. Even after accounting for those costs motorists are still being singled out to the tune of £18.4 billion. And despite all that we are still getting repeated increases in Fuel Duty rates. The Government are starting a new version of the Fuel Price Escalator with plans to increase rates by 1 penny per litre above inflation every year.