Sunday, May 25, 2008


Independent but loopy

Are we supposed to take the Independent's columnist Joan Smith seriously, or is she playing a comic Grumpy Old Green? Her piece today on cars and car owners was badly-argued, emotive and delightfully self-serving. By her selective logic it appears that only “top-of-the range saloons and SUVs” bring about the bulk of road accidents; I have yet to see the evidence that says that is wholly or even largely true. She conveniently excludes from any criticism “little runabouts like my Ford Ka", as if somehow they do not also contribute to accidents, respiratory disease, or any of the other ills she lists. Medical evidence might not be so kind towards her desire to have her cake and eat it. No, to Joan Smith, the privileged owners of large expensive cars have to be the problem, and by definition their “political clout” enables them to hold Gordon Brown to ransom. She appears blind to the fact that the steep rise in fuel costs is bearing hardest on the less well-off, and it is in fact their voices to which Gordon Brown is now having to pay overdue attention. The Freudenschade central to Smith’s article is entirely misdirected. She concludes with her own dogmatic analysis that the underlying cause of the current crisis is that there isn't enough oil to go round. There are many contributing causes to the current situation, but the absolute quantity of oil in the ground is nowhere near the top of the list.

There is certainly a serious debate to be had on the future of energy, transport and car ownership. It should be based on intelligent and factual argument, not Joan Smith’s approach of partial and ill-informed sneering. The Independent really should do better.


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