Friday Ephemera
It’s Mean and Beastly and Not At All Funny

Onwards to the Future

A vision of tomorrow, and at least one classic sentence, courtesy of the Guardian’s Jackie Ashley

Prospect magazine carries a thoughtful, slightly wistful piece by the former Labour MP Chris Mullin in which he calls for the abolition of the private car.

Yes, Mr Mullin would have us inhabit a world denuded of the automobile - a mode of transport he regards as “a disastrous invention” - and with it some rather obvious but unmentioned freedoms. Instead, he thinks we should want to live in a more bipedal and egalitarian world. A world not unlike

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, before the coming of market forces.

And naturally, Ms Ashley is very much intrigued: 

That might be going too far for today’s politicians, but the effect of hard times and the oil price on budgets, and the sheer misery of modern car commuting, suggests that a more radical agenda could be popular. That means much bolder support for cycling, with cars banned from many more roads and parks. It’s one of the few radical shifts in lifestyle that is easily deliverable and for which there is no real drawback.

Banning cars from roads is easily delivered and has no drawback, see? At least, not for Ms Ashley, who cares so very much and thinks so very deeply.

As do other cerebral and compassionate Guardianistas:

Cars should be banned - they are unhealthy, dangerous, a lazy and destructive option. The only people who should be allowed them are: (a) people who work far from their home where public transport is not sufficient (they would have to provide evidence upon trying to buy a car); (b) people with 3 children or more (for transporting kids + big weekly shops); (c) disabled people who would find it difficult to use public transport. All would have to provide proof when buying their car. Everybody else will have to use trains, buses, trams, their feet, bikes.


It is also vastly selfish to drive around with empty seats.

Though not, perhaps, as selfish as wishing to impose on others a “radical shift in lifestyle” and limited mobility. Unless shrinking a person’s world and robbing them of autonomy is now considered a virtue. Curiously, the Guardian comments are largely fixated with the respective hazards posed by cyclists and motorists, and which party smells more. Ms Ashley and Mr Mullin’s wild fits of authoritarianism, and those of their admirers, don’t cause much fuss.