Coffee House

Gearing up for the Tories

29 September 2011

6:27 PM

29 September 2011

6:27 PM

Westminster is preparing for the Tory conference and Ben Brogan reports that a confident mood pervades the blue
camp. The positive briefings have begun. The Guardian reveals that the speed limit on motorways is to be raised from 70 MPH to 80 MPH. This is a victory for Transport Secretary Philip Hammond over
recalcitrant forces in Whitehall and the Health and Climate Change Secretaries. The Guardian adds that several welfare announcements will be made. It’s also likely that there’ll be
further initiatives relating to the riots, perhaps inspired by Labour’s concerted
on law and order.

Meanwhile, the Eurozone crisis continues. Angela Merkel passed the controversial expansion of the EFSF this morning. Continental markets reacted well, but the possibility of an implosion remains, especially as talks over the next round of debt recapitalisation appears to
have become mired in political difficulties.

The spectre of collapse will haunt the Tory conference, just as it did the Labour and Lib Dem conferences. With the economy floundering and domestic reforms under pressure, the government can
ill-afford Europe to distract attention from its conference, where it will be restating its policies to the country. Our interview with
William Hague
in the latest issue of the Spectator illustrates that this will be extremely difficult, perhaps more so than it was for Labour. Governments are often forced to talk about matters
they can’t control; it’s a paradox of power.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Pot Head

    Everyone around here smokes skunk and the Feds turn a blind eye We should bring our ridiculous drugs laws into line with reality too

  • Centaur

    To all those saying 80 is a daft idea – I guess you don’t drive on motorways much, or at all.
    Everyone drives at that speed anyway. It just brings the law into line with reality, which is a good thing.

  • Mark Surrey

    aleksandr – i don’t see why 80mph should cause any more problems than 70mph. Most of the people on the road already do that speed “unofficially” and most drivers on the continent seem to be able to drive at that speed without crashing repeatedly.

    Regarding the extra enforcement required, i’m unsure why you’d need more cameras and police – surely if they are satisfactory to “enforce” 70mph, they’ll be satisfactory to “enforce” 80mph?

    Whatever the reasons for implementing this change, it seems like a small amount of common sense is prevailing. Had to happen eventually i suppose, despite the ridiculous assertions of the green lobby, attempting to suggest it will cost jobs, destroy the environment, etc, etc…

  • Mr Oulton

    80mph is indeed daft.

    Faster limits will cause a negligible decrease in journey time. Bunching will simply increase at the unavoidable bottlenecks. It’s simply a Daily Mail vote winner policy.

    Even if cars have got safer – and stop quicker – our reaction times haven’t. Parliamentary reported on this some time ago: this will cause an increase in deaths.

    We’ll also burn more fuel; I’m afraid the laws of physics on drag and velocity don’t lie. Which means our economy will become even more dependent on those in the Middle East. And of course, those living near motorways can look forward to greater noise and air pollution.

  • Dan Grover

    I don’t see why enforcing a different speed limit would be any more work than enforcing the current one.

    And Pothead, yeah, I suspect in the “real” world a lot of people will go faster – because they want to. I don’t think you can reasonably call something a tax increase when it’s 100% voluntary.

  • alexsandr

    80mph is a daft idea. It will widen the band of speeds on the motorways more which is dangerous. There will be 2 lanes of trucks doing 56, cars doing 60 in lane 3 cos they cant afford to go faster but still want to exceed 56, and people in their range rover sports wanting to do 90 – 100 tailgating them. Then CRUMP!.
    And there is a large contingent doing 60 now cos you get more fuel economy at that speed.
    As for enforcing the 80 limit. that would require huge numbers of plod or a massive increase of speed cameras on the motorways.

  • Heartless Perry

    Can it really be true (RAC figures) that an increase in speed from 70 > 80mph uses 20% more fuel?

    That’s OK then (on the revenue front – as commented upon above). Clever, clever – is the Great Economic Pretender still lurking in the Treasury woodwork?

    Why not raise the speed limit on heavy artics to 70 – or 80mph too? Make driving even more entertaining, and speak to the world of UK progressive policies:

    Fast roads
    Fast rail
    Fast Broadband
    Fast . . .

  • Chris Austin

    Hammond points out that most people already drive above 70, so this just means less people are breaking the law on their drive to work. I think they could abolish income tax and you lot would find a reason to moan about it.

  • Pot Head

    Dan Grover of course you’re right nobody has to speed up but in the *real* world everyone will. And obviously Hammond thinks they will or where the “boost” to the economy” coming from? This is populism (nothing wrong with that) but lets not pretend there’s an economic benefit. Why not raise lorry speed limits if this going to “boost the economy”?

    The only economic benefit wil be to the Treasury and the oil companies..

  • Derek

    It means that the government, at least the conservative part of it, has decided to adopt a more macho image.

  • Dan Grover

    Stealth tax? Are you insane?

    You know this is a MAXIMUM limit, not a minimum, right? If you want, you can keep on driving at 70 if you’re worried about the potential extra cost…

  • Pot Head

    Raising the speed limit to 80 mph is a crafty stealth tax on the motorist dressed up as the Govt being the drivers friend

    Where is the evidence that raising the speed limit to 80 will raise economic growth? How much will it add to GDP? And what % of Motorway car journeys benefit the economy?

    Will Hammond be increasing lorry speed limits from 56MPH to “shorten journey times and help boost the economy. ” ?

    Surely as drivers will now be spending more on fuel and paying more money to treasury in fuel tax it will be drag on the economy as they now can’t spend that money elsewhere in the economy. And Hammond is saying they will enforce the 80 limit “more rigorously” which will lead to additional police costs or police taken away from other more useful duties

  • tom jones

    As somebody interested in keeping Labour out of power at the next election above all other things, I’m really hoping 70 > 80 isn’t the big idea this year because frankly – it’s lame. We need growth and we need something to get growth. The Budget didn’t do enough, there’s still way too much red tape – it really riles me that we’re focusing on small issues when we should be focusing on the important stuff!!!

  • I S

    The Heir to Blair’s hair looks lovely in the photo.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Publius : 7.12pm

    You’re not implying, are you, that a politician is seeking to attribute to his own perspicacity something that he was forced into doing by a superior power?

    When did politicians start doing this sort of thing?

  • Heartless Perry

    80- mph?

    Which, since many folk drive at well over 70mph let’s face it, really means 90mph for everyday motorway motoring.


    And the Climate change brigade? – or mustn’t we mention them?

  • Cogito Ergosum

    Edward Heath was the “Great Grumpiness” on the Conservative back benches.

    Maybe Gordon Brown will be the same for Labour.

  • tomdaylight

    Are you serious – Chris Huhne opposes raises the speed limit! Not only environmentally unsound, but beyond parody…

  • Publius

    “The Guardian reveals that the speed limit on motorways is to be raised from 70 MPH to 80 MPH.”

    What you forgot to mention, Mr Blackburn, is this is on instructions from the EU, along with a reduction to 20mph in some urban areas.

    As for your comment about attention being “distracted” by “Europe”, since “Europe” is calling the shots, it would be nice if we could address ourselves to our real masters rather than this irrelevant shower of charlatans.

    But no. Instead we will hear talk of plastic shopping bags and be treated to the sickening spectacle of confected debate and Ceaucescu-like adulation.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    Well the Government wouldn’t be in this paradoxical situation if a particlarly stupid Conservative forefather named Heath hadn’t lied to and in doing so betrayed the nation.

    It is so disconcerting that the current encumbate does in so many ways seem to want to emulate Heath.

  • TomTom

    Raising the speed limit to 130 km/h is probably long overdue to bring Britain in line with EU speed limits. Now that the Commission plans to upgrade the MoT in Britain and raise it to European standards, those cars still on the road will be safer at higher speeds.

    Philip Hammond deserves praise for implementing EU Policy