It taxes brains and pockets…

It taxes brains and pockets…

Road pricing: Sign-up for the government website – but don’t expect anything to be done about it…

THE chance for the public to register a ‘vote’ against the proposed road-pricing on a petition set-up on the government’s own website has certainly grabbed the attention.

You wouldn’t believe the number of e-mails I have had urging me to join in the fun.

Of course I couldn’t resist logging-on and adding my name to the pushing-two-million signatures already sitting there.

But, of course, there’s a huge But! Please don’t think for one-minute that this is going to make a ha’porth of difference to road pricing. It just won’t.

The fleeting pleasure is in giving the government something of a bloody nose. Good old New Labour thought it was being extra-clever – nothing new there – when it set up the site to allow anyone and everyone to introduce a petition against whatever takes your fancy. If enough people signed a given petition then New Lab promised to ‘listen’.

Not act (oh, come on!) just listen. The ploy is/ was to allow the public (that’s you and me) to think that it had some say over what was happening while the government simply went on its merry way, dipping our pockets while laughing up its sleeve.

What they hadn’t banked on was a well-orchestrated petition campaign targeting its road pricing aims and all the adverse publicity generated. But while they have back-heeled a silly own goal and given us a bit of a laugh, governments play the long game.

In any case, President Blair has already said, in his special, patronising, gentle, especially-for-idiots style, that all us petition-signers have, actually, got it ‘wrong’. But no matter, he will be sending us the re-configured brain-wash disc just as soon as the spin-doctors have decided what we actually should believe in.

The bottom line is New Labour is 100 per cent going to pick our pockets for road-pricing and of course for anything else that you can scream Global Warming at.

For instance, I got rolled for their extra special air-tax only last week. How does taking a tenner off every air passenger combat global warming? It doesn’t of course. What it goes on is paying for Gordon Brown’s outrageous borrowing, plus a bit more for various gold-plated, copper bottomed pension schemes. And there was dippy old me thinking it would be spent on nice oxygen-producing trees.

Let’s all sign the petitions by all means, just don’t be surprised when nothing happens…

* THE northern centre lost one of its best-ever off-road riders last week with the passing of Tony Sharp (see separate news story page 2). It was Tony’s epic northern battles, week-in and week-out, with his arch rival Bob Dickinson (no relation) in the 1960s that first nailed my attention and proved to me that passion for motorcycles was not just for Christmas, they were for life!

The rivalry between these two superb scramblers was real and tangible and has never even come close to being repeated – not in the northern centre, anyway. Spectators (and fellow riders alike) really did turn out on a weekly basis to see which would get the upper hand. It was usually a two-stroke versus four-stroke battle as well with the classic combination being Tony, all hunched-up in his aggressive style on the two-stroke Greeves Challenger and Bob, with his smooth, upright stance mounted regally on a Matchless Metisse.

When these two lined-up in the Allcomers Final at the end of the day, whether at Helsington, Brownrigg, Bootle, Wigton, even over the border in Scotland, the entire paddock turned out to watch.

I know I am not on my own by a long way in my memories of those few fabulous summers when Dickinson and Sharp reigned supreme and all that ever got my goat, was that their skills were not appreciated by the press. Unless you were involved in the races ‘down south’ at the time our northern scrambles barely rated a mention in the weeklies that ruled. Yet when any of the southern aces made a rare venture north they invariably got trounced by Tony or Bob – or both.

Several years later when I eventually got a trials bike of my own, I was able to get to know Tony, who was as good a trials rider as he was a scrambler, and although he had no airs or graces, I always allowed total respect as I never forget those 1960s scrambles.

I know that Bob occasionally reads T+MX and if he would ever write a few lines describing his memories of those epic battles with ‘Sharpy’, it would be a pleasure to publish them. To Tony, thanks for the memories, they have lasted me 40-years so far…