Why is the BBC so keen on perpetuating the myth of “road tax”? The term is totally misleading in that it suggests that roads are paid for out of taxes raised on motoring. As I have pointed out before, this is totally false. Today (Monday, 29th Oct 2012) there is a news story about a right wing lobbying group suggesting that the roads system be privatised and a system of two tier charging for use of the roads be introduced. I first heard about this on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, which made persistent references to “Road Tax”. This was then repeated on the hourly news bulletins. It is not just today that the BBC has made references to “Road Tax”, it frequently uses this misleading term for motoring taxes.
Today I found this so annoying that I decided to send a formal complaint to the BBC (Case number CAS-1748928-PFD9YS):
In BBC programmes and News broadcasts we are being told that there is a thing called “Road Tax”, this is simply not true. There is no such thing as “Road Tax”, there are taxes on motoring such as Vehicle Excise Duty. These taxes are a part of general taxation and do not contribute directly to the maintenance of the roads, any more than taxes on tobacco pay directly for the NHS.
It is time the BBC stopped propagating this myth. The Road Fund was abolished in 1936 by Winston Churchill, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the grounds that it was giving motorists a dangerously inflated sense of ownership of the public road. By doing so, he brought to an end to hypothecated road taxation in Britain. It is the BBC’s stated Mission that it is to ” inform, educate and entertain”. The perpetuation of the Myth of Road Tax is clearly contrary to the first two of these aims. Please in future make it clear in your news and current affairs programmes that motoring taxes are not hypothecated and have not been so since 1936. There is a very real issue around the motorists’ dangerously inflated sense of ownership of the public road, as it leads to death and serious injury on a daily basis. Research has shown that there are over 800 deaths a year (mostly of pedestrians and cyclists) due to disrespectful driving as a result of this mistaken sense of ownership.
Where your entertainment programmes make reference to “Road Tax”, could you make it clear that this is fiction, and not a reference to the real world.
I hope to get a reply within the next two weeks, and will post it here when I do.
There was a time when the BBC was a respected organisation which was prepared to speak truth to power, but those days are sadly gone and now it just repeats PR releases from dodgy “think tanks” without questioning validity or accuracy. It is really sad that it has come to this.