The Rise of the Uber-Gimp

May 10th, 2006

This man:

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… is now in charge of UK transport policy. He is “a professional politician, whose rise in Labour ranks has been relentless, from the moment he started to work as a researcher for Gordon Brown in 1990“.

A professional politicain. Uber-Gimp, he will dress in your favoured costume and perform un-nameable feats for your delight as long as it progresses his career.

He has no background in transport, knows nothing of running multi-billion pound turnover enterprises. Yet he now sets UK transport policy.

Uber-Gimp, most importantly, does not have the best interests of the public at heart. For one, he has no heart. And two, he does not believe he serves the public, despite being nominally a public servant. He believes, in fact, that the public are fortunate to have him to run their pathetic little lives for them.

Uber-Gimp believes only he can Make Life Better©.

And his first declaration is: to announce a £10m fund for the development of nationwide road charging schemes.

He hopes new technology will allow drivers to be charged by the mile.


What new technology, pray tell? Without even unwrapping our crystal ball we see through the swirling mists to a near-future Utopia, where your car is registered via the DVLA to your NIR entry.

In this heavenly, terror-free, fraudless hinterland every journey you make will be logged as your number plate is scanned at every junction.

Imagine the freedom that comes with such luxury! Imagine, some other upwardly-mobile Gimp sat at a console somewhere diligently refusing road access to all the undesirables. Imagine…


“A professional politician is a professionally dishonourable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.”


H L Mencken said it better.

5 Responses to “The Rise of the Uber-Gimp”

  1. meaumeau Says:

    ANPR is presumably the new tech although he didn’t mention it this morning and wasn’t asked about it by the BBC – no surprises there, may be in three years time.

    ANPR has been live in the Leeds/Bradford area for ages now so I’m not sure if counts as new technology though maybe they’ll be sticking RFID on it to ensure a ‘gold standard’ system.

  2. irdial Says:

    The problem with these systems is not only that they do it at all, but that they do it and then keep the records of EVERY plate, wether there is a crime or not. The same is true with the CC system in London. It is used not only to charge you, and to detect wether you have paid or not, but they also keep all the data and make it available to the police.

    If your car was stolen, you would want the police to be able to track down your car wherever it was, but the truth of the matter is that the smart criminals simply put a clean number plate on your car so that they dont get rumbled. The system will be rendered useless by the simple, unstoppable act of plate swapping.

    We got on fine without every road being surveilled, and really this is a case of ‘just because it can be done this does not mean that it should be done’.

  3. meaumeau Says:

    Also that you cannot consider any technological/databsing ‘solution’ in isolation i.e. without how it may be used in conjunction with other databases.

    If fuel duties could be determined at regional level it would have a greater impact on congestion/road usage, it would also get rid of the complaints of rural users being disproportionately affected if Birmingham could increase fuel duty without affecting rural Warwickshire. And you wouldn’t need a network of electricity gobbling cameras.

    In fact I wonder what an environmental/energy audit of all these technological ‘solutions’ would show, hmmmm.

  4. irdial Says:

    There is a slight problem that I forsee with this local agenda; how are you going to control the people who are the locals? You will have to get up their ass somehow to tax them, how can this be done efficiently without using invasive databases and taxes?

    Also of interest; in a city loke london that has a very mobile population, how would contributions be extracted fairly?

    Its an interesting question, how to balance this problem. One thing is for certain, USUK is going completely the wrong way.

  5. meaumeau Says:

    Obviously a highly localised system can be easily subverted if neighbouring Local Authorities are quite disparate in their taxation, it requires a level of ongoing activity between LAs
    Fuel tax is about the one thing left that can annoy people and there will be a proportion of people that would commute for cheaper fuel but most people don’t have that much free time day-in day-out. An increased level of traffic in the cheaper area would increase congestion and road wear and the local element of tax would likely increase to reflect this.
    It would be easy to deny planning permission for petrol staions near LA boundaries to make fuel commuting more onerous.

    Perhaps you could tax petrol stations rather than drivers, although this doesn’t encourage fuel efficient cars as much. A non-tax route would be much more preferable but tax beats surveillance in my book.

    There are two basic problems that need fixing:

    People don’t live near where they work:
    -they increasingly work for large organisations or franchises either in city centres or car orientated out-of-town sheds.
    -land prices in cities preclude affordable family houses and extensive park/non-commercial areas (where not already established).
    -tradition of home ownership means people don’t like to rent and prefer freehold properties
    -there are few(er) facilities in urban centres to support residents.
    -urban centres are perceived as being more dangerous than suburbs outside of office/shopping hours
    -planning authorities still prefer zoning of different building uses

    Public transport can’t be depended upon:
    -coverage outside urban areas is patchy
    -limited services at night
    -still expensive wrt private car use
    -the components (buses, trains) rarely work together.
    -facilities/vehicles are often vandalised

    The second of the two is relatively easy to fix as it is about improving provision of a service, the first is much harder as you have to be able to convince people that an urban community (or a localised rural one) can be better than a suburban one and then rely on their decision.

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