THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION As we close for press the overwhelming Liberal majority in the Orpington By-Election is exciting great speculation in political circles. This is a non-political journal, except in so far as motorists’ interests are affected by political issues. If the present Government wishes to survive the next General Election it would do well to realise that motorists’ votes form a very influential proportion of the poll and that at last

road-users may be turning against a party that taxes them almost out of mobility, extracts parking fees whereever possible, persecutes drivers in the Magistrates’ Courts and continues to hamper the motor industry. Vehicle operators are robbed of some £600-million a year through the Road Fund and More than 60i, of the price of petrol at the pump goes to the Government. Mr. Marples, like other Minister’s of Transport before him (we exempt Lord Brabazon of Tara), appears to put personal publicity before a square deal for vehicle drivers. More and more Marplean restrictions are his aim—loss of licence for three traffic offences in three years, more and more 40 mph, speed limits on urban dualcarriageways, so-m.p.h. limits every summer week-end, compulsory garage tests of all but brand new cars; all restrictions of a kind on which Mr. Marples thrives, but which have not had very much effect in reducing road accidents, which will remain at the present

unhappy level until Britain gets roads appropriate to 20th-century traffic.

A Government that goes along with such ideas is hardly likely to gain motorists’ votes. Budget Day is imminent and if Mr. Selwyn Lloyd does not announce substantial reductions in fuel tax (which would benefit all sections of the community), licence duties and car purchase tax, together with a reduction in general taxation so as to revive incentive in this little Island (instead of encouraging people to hope for tax-free gains on the Pools, Premium Bonds or the Stock Exchange) the surprise at Orpington is likely to become the result of the next General Election.

Drawing attention to how anti-motorist the present Government has become—one of its anomalies is exempting diesel oil for railway use from tax while increasing the duty for road vehiclesWI-0R Svowr remarked recently that at the next Election people may go to the polls less conservatively and vote more liberally. In Orpington they have done that …