Whatever else you say about the Toyota Prius, it goes like the clappers on the open road. I had rather assumed that they needed a following wind and a downward slope, but I have just been overtaken by one heading north towards Oxford on the A34, and I was doing 70 mph.
Its numberplate was FC 1 which makes this the second traffic offence for Oxford’s Mayor in a few weeks – a recent letter to the Oxford Times observed that the mayoral car had been seen parked on double-yellow lines. Rules, of course, are for ordinary people, not councillors, especially mayors.
The wretched Prius was the cause of much bitter wrangling in 2004. The then Mayor, a Labour man, wanted to replace the car with a second-hand BMW on the perfectly reasonable basis that BMW was the heir to Oxford’s traditional car-making industry. He did not put it like this, but those of us who still try to be proud of Oxford despite its gradual erosion at the hands of ignorant planners and thick highways officers would like to think that our civic representative, of whatever political party, goes about in a decent car.
The vote for the BMW was called in by some Green councillor with twigs in his beard to match those in his brain. Months of wrangling followed over whether Oxford should buy the BMW or the Prius. A drawn vote was settled eventually by casting vote. I don’t suppose anyone kept a record of how many hours of discussion and debate went into this, but it is quite certain that the hot air generated by the argument eroded any of the (anyway largely specious) environmental arguments advanced on behalf of the Prius.
Green politicians are not all stupid, of course, or not entirely stupid at least. What they lack is any sense of proportion. One Green clod (Twig Beard I imagine) boasted about how buying the Prius would send a strong message, as if anyone takes the slightest notice of silly little Toy Town politicians. The Green contribution to sensible debate on any subject matches the contribution to environmental health made by the purchase of a car imported from the other side of the world.
Talking of hot air, if Susanna Pressel were to think and speak as fast as her motor car goes up the A34, we might get through more council business. She would also have time to walk to meetings like the rest of us have to, instead of parking on yellow lines.