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UK election 2017: What the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem manifestos mean for motorists in a pre-Brexit Britain

Who should I vote for? It is probably best to vote on policy, not personality and ignore the election polls. If motoring means the most to you, here is all the information you need to help you decide ahead of the Great British general election 2017.

With the general election 2017 looming and Brexit looming in the background, there is a huge amount to consider when it comes to casting your vote. Leaving the European Union requires the right person at the helm ─ the right person being the most capable, not necessarily the most charismatic.

Rather than turn this into a huge argument, which talking about politics invariably does, we are going to focus on the motoring aspect of each manifesto. Because pollution, motoring costs and future mobility are all of great importance, as is actually being able to get to work.

So without further ado, here is what the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats all plan to do to motoring in the UK should they get into power. Assuming, of course, there are no U-turns. And we all know the likelihood of that…

Conservative Party manifesto for motoring

Theresa May appears to be making a total hash of her pre-election campaign and a plan to regulate the Internet does little to help her cause, but there are a lot of silent voters who would hate for Jeremy Corbyn to get into power and “strong and stable” is what people want. Even if it has been said 100,000 times.

Almost every car to be zero-emission by 2050

The Conservative manifesto says it wants “almost every car and van” to emit zero emissions at a local level. To help achieve its goal, it has promised to invest £600million by 2020, although where it will be spent is unclear. This is a lofty claim and one that could easily be ignored in years to come, given the 33-year lead time, but it could be feasible.

More green buses

Not the colour green. What the Conservative manifesto means is that it “will invest in more low-emission buses”, although exactly how many and when is unclear. Plus the difference between zero and low-emissions is important.

No more annoying signal dropouts

By 2022, the Conservatives plan to cover the UK with 95 per cent mobile phone network coverage. This “uninterrupted mobile phone signal” (unless you live in the remaining five per cent) includes all major roads, but it is unclear if this means 4G, 3G, EDGE or what. It does, however, mention a majority of the population will have 5G by 2027. Even though 4G coverage is still an issue for many citizens.

Autonomous vehicle preparation

The Conservatives see a future in self-driving vehicles, which is why the manifesto reads: “We are leading the world in preparing for autonomous vehicles.” It fails to mention any specifics beyond a “programme of support”, which may suggest testing on British roads and more funding.

Minibuses for communities

A lack of buses in certain areas out in the sticks has angered a lot of people and the number of services is seemingly in decline. To help combat this, the Conservatives have pledged to introduce community minibuses.

Labour Party manifesto for motoring

Depending on who you talk to, Jeremy Corbyn will either drag us back to the 70s (flairs, anyone?) or save the UK. Whatever you think, we know he is a “Wenger in” man and he has somehow stayed at the helm of the Labour Party despite the odd coup. Make of that what you will.

5G coverage on the busiest roads

Another manifesto, another use of the phrase “uninterrupted 5G coverage” on “all major roads and railways”. Though 4G already provides adequate speeds for downloading cat videos while on the go (assuming you have signal), 5G is said to be essential for driverless cars.

A push towards lower emissions

Labour is a fan of reducing Britain’s pollution levels. It pledges to “position the UK at the forefront of the development, manufacture and use of low-emission vehicles, supporting the creation of modes of transport through investment in low-emission vehicles”. Exactly how it will do this is unclear.

Diesel bus retrofits

Even though Euro 6 emissions standards are way off that of low or ultra-low emissions standards, Labour says it “will retrofit thousands of diesel buses in areas with the most severe air quality problems to Euro 6 standards”. So standing next to a bus will become less harmful, though still unadvisable.

No more road deaths

Labour is looking beyond emissions with its plan to “reset the UK’s road safety vision”. Although it is very non-specific, there is a plan to aim for zero road deaths, which it will achieve by the “reintroduction of road safety targets” and “bold measures”. What bold measures it means is anyone’s guess right now.

Renationalise the railways

Those who remember the British Rail strikes may be against the idea of nationalising the railways, but then privatisation has seen its fair share of issues. Yes, Southern Railway, we are looking at you. Labour is keen on this idea to the point it actually barely mentions cars at all in its manifesto. Public transport appears to be the bigger focus.

Liberal Democrats manifesto for motoring

The Liberal Democrats appear to be taking the issue of air pollution very seriously, stating that it contributes to 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK and costs the NHS £15billion in its manifesto. Admirable, indeed, but if history has taught us anything it is that the Liberal Democrats are the third-place horse of British politics. But leader Tim Farron does believe web surveillance is a bad idea and has a softer stance on Brexit, so maybe this time will be different, eh?

The end of diesel cars by 2025

The Liberal Democrats promise to ban “the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK” by the year 2025. Not the words “sale of” and not “blanket ban” – it will be a ban going forward. There is a fear reducing CO2 may see other nasty emissions and particulates increase, although hybrids (which use both electric and petrol) are typically cleaner than their combustion-only counterparts.

Diesel scrappage scheme

Forming part of the two-pronged attack on diesels is the proposed diesel scrappage scheme, which would see money offered for those who scrap their aging, polluting diesel vehicle. Although the same criticism above applies, diesels do emit carcinogens, which have been proven to be cancerous. So the less of them around, the better.

Low-emission buses and taxis

Yet another green-focussed pledge. The Liberal Democrats promise “all private hire vehicles and diesel buses licensed to operate in urban areas to run on ultra-low emission or zero-emission fuels within five years”. To do this would involve replacing around 10 buses every day over that five-year period, which would be difficult at best. Even the modification of existing engines would be a tall order.

Improve the electric vehicle infrastructure

Owning a hybrid or electric car can be frustrating because of a lack of car chargers away from home and the fact there can be incompatibility issues. The Liberal Democrats want to introduce “universal charging points” to reduce the hassle.

Introduce a new car taxation system

In the Liberal Democrat manifesto, it says it plans to “reform vehicle taxation to encourage sales of electric and low-emission vehicles”. This would go against the April 2017 VED changes, which have seen low CO2 emissions less attractive for smaller vehicles.

A push towards hydrogen

Electric cars are starting to take hold, but hydrogen is still a viable alternative if you are happy having a pressurised tank inside your vehicle. The Liberal Democrats want to “support investment in cutting edge technologies” such as hydrogen cars, which emit only water from the exhaust and can be fuelled without making any emissions whatsoever.


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