|London, 22 March 1999.
For immediate release.
"Why?" says ABD Chairman Brian Gregory. "Because direct action and protest is the only language the Government understands, and it seems to be the only way to get a point across these days. Car drivers should be standing shoulder to shoulder with the truckers and not allowing the environmentalists and their government friends to divide and rule."
Truck drivers, like all motorised road users, have been the subject of a persistent campaign to make their life more difficult and expensive with the eventual aim of driving them off the roads altogether. Their organisations have been, at best, moribund - the Road Haulage Association is led by former transport minister Stephen Norris, who regularly appears on TV boasting about road schemes he cancelled when he was in office; even praising Swampy for his opposition to the Newbury bypass.
The AA are no more effective in their support of the private motorist.
They say they understand the truckers' concerns, but cannot agree with their methods. What alternative to they propose to get the message across that these draconian taxes are unacceptable? We need more than a few leaflets in petrol stations and meek acceptance of the lunacy of road pricing.
Central to the truckers' anger is the Government's unilateral plan to raise fuel duty by six percent over the rate of inflation every year, making them more and more uncompetitive against their European colleagues. Global warming is the excuse for this, but little action is taken to tax non transport sources of so called greenhouse gases, which account for a much higher proportion of emissions.
This year, diesel has been raised by even more than the 6%, despite the fact that engine technology has now begun to clean up diesel emissions in the same way that petrol cars have already been tackled.
There have also been swingeing increases in "road tax", hitting haulage companies hard and filling our roads with foreign trucks. The Government view that lower corporation tax will balance out these huge increases will offer no comfort at all to those haulage businesses which cannot make a profit as a result.
But why support direct action that inconveniences other road users?
For years, the ABD has put forward balanced, rational, scientific arguments, exposing inconsistencies and falsehoods in the views of those who wish to persecute motorists. These have been largely ignored, keeping the public in ignorance.
Rational debate appears to count for nothing in 1990s Britain. Those in authority only seem to listen to the language of protest, hysteria and extremism. Direct action is the only way to make a point, and that is what these law abiding, hard working truckers have been forced into.
The last thing the ABD want is for our cities to be blocked by trucks.
But people who are annoyed at being held up should remember that the truckers are merely in the front line of a battle that is threatening their livelihoods and freedom, too. They should wake up.