What a Tory-Lib Dem coalition means for UK motorists

Published: 12 May 2010

We've woken up to a new dawn in British politics: the first coalition Government for 70 years. David Cameron, the new prime minister, leads a Conservative-Liberal Democrat team who have different ideas in mind for British motorists.

Although we don't yet know a full transport plan from the new coalition government, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect by studying their respective manifestos.

The Conservative transport plan

The Conservative party has traditionally been seen as the motorists' friend in the UK. Or at least, the less evil of the political parties. Don't forget for the most part of the past decade, the Government has raised four times in revenues from motorists what it reinvests back into our road network.

Tories have campaigned on a couple of measures to improve motorists' lives: to end the expansion of the UK's speed camera network, to continue Labour's good work supporting electric vehicles, to encourage timely roadworks with full accountability for contractors causing unnecessary jams and to introduce a fuel duty stabiliser to even out spikes in oil prices.

The Liberal Democrat transport plan

The Liberal Democrats campaigned by saying they would shift the road tax emphasis from tax discs to road usage – a veiled threat of road tolls. While the Conservatives back occasional specific road tolls, they've historically shied away from a fullscale shift to road charging. But the Lib Dems have talked about cutting fuel duty in remote rural areas and sound reluctant to build any major new roads unless they meet strict economic and environmental guidelines.

Sounds like converging centrist politics!

It's too early to judge exactly how the Tory-Lib Dem coalition will work, but it's uncharted waters really. Will this be a fragile marriage of convenience? A coalition with such disparate aims that the motorist will just be sidelined and – inevitably – milked for every penny as the soft target it has been for decades?

Whatever the policies, now is not the time for dithering. We're underoing the greatest transformation of our transport infrastructure for decades, and the transition from an oil to an electric economy requires wise leadership from our political masters. Let's hope this new lot can do a better job for us motorists than previous governments.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet