Philobiblon: No excuses: it has to be the Prius

Monday, February 20, 2006

No excuses: it has to be the Prius

Government ministers in the UK are being given a choice:

All members of the Cabinet have been told by the government car pool that when their car is up for renewal they can swap it either for an XL Jaguar or a Toyota Prius.
The Jaguar costs £50,000 and is regarded by environmentalists as a "gas guzzler", although it runs on biodiesel, which contains a 5 per cent blend of vegetable oil. The Toyota - priced at £17,500 - has a "hybrid" engine, running on petrol and electricity, which cuts its carbon emissions.

The Independent reports that at least one, unnamed, minister, has already said that he'll go for the Jag on the basis of "security".

Complete bosh! (A discussion on Five Live this morning suggested that "security" came down to it being a bigger car, and hence more collision-resistant, and more powerful, so "able to get out of trouble". Two questions: How much risk are ministers at? Not great - since Northern Ireland has calmed, anyway. How often has "a powerful car" saved a politician's life? No examples that I can think of.

Any minister who opts for a Jag should be named and shamed, embarrassed out of the government.

Elsewhere Caitlin Moran - a sort of poor-woman's Julie Burchill - has some interesting thoughts, amidst the sarcasm, about the apparent rash of people being convicted of varying offences that they filmed themselves on their mobile phones. Not that I'm a Baudrillard fan, but he might have something to say about it ... simulation and reality and all that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I both have Priuses, and anyone who says they don't have the power to get away from a situation quickly hasn't driven one! But who on earth decided to give politicians this kind of boneheaded choice?! Since image seems to always come first with them, and our culture unfortunately sees a Jag as more cool than a Toyota, I think it will take shame to get the ministers to make the right choice.

2/20/2006 03:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Bryan McKay said...

Very interesting about the car choice. Though I agree with your assessment, however, I must say that the Prius is a rather unattractive thing - all squat and modern looking with a very impractical trunk space. And, although Jaguars today are hardly what they used to be, they are still, on the whole, far more stately and attractive vehicles.

They really ought to start making more attractive hybrid cars, and then I believe that the market share might increase rapidly. I know I would buy a hybrid if I could afford a new car, but for now I'm stuck with my pollutant-heavy 1990 Ford Taurus Wagon.

2/20/2006 05:20:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

I don't think "it looks better" is any sort of an excuse for a minister to spend extra public money, and set a bad example, by his or her choice. No doubt there are in part aerodynamic reasons for the shape, but perhaps it could be made to look better. Then again, while it is perhaps unrealistic, it would nice to make cars a method of getting from A to B, when appropriate, rather than a status symbol ...

2/20/2006 06:44:00 pm  
Blogger Ronnie Smartt said...

I wonder who thought up this stark choice, dividing Ministers into wet, green and Uriah Heepish or real men. I like to think I should seize my chance to have a Jag, and the deep-down knowledge that I should probably at the last minute hesitate to strut in one merely convinces me that I am not of the stuff of (successful) Ministers. On the other hand a chauffeur-driven Prius does sound a bit Mickey Mouse.

2/20/2006 08:01:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

An armoured Land Rover Defender or a Wolf will get you out of sticky situations with suicide bombers, and protect you from the gangs of youths in the supermarket car park.

An armoured car can save your life. Princess Diana's armoured Merc is not a good example.

German cars eh? Tch.

2/20/2006 11:19:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

So far as I know the ministerial Jags aren't armoured ... and as you say, sometimes the risk isn't "the enemy", but your own side ...

2/20/2006 11:25:00 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

I would have thought this has everything to do with the utterly predictable rightwing media mau-mauing any government would get for "not buying British". They can't buy Rovers any more, so that only really leaves Jag (even though the yanks own it), LR and Aston Martin (they can dream, after all).

Mind you, Honda Civics are made in Swindon...

2/21/2006 11:28:00 am  
Blogger clanger said...

Raleigh. A great British company. Can't wait to see Mr. B. riding his Chopper Mk. III along Downing Street.

Will he go for Labour red, Tory blue rinse, or royal purple?

[Aside:] Interesting website on the colour of Elizabethan clothing:

So, erm, what do all those journalists drive then? I think we should be told.

2/21/2006 05:32:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Judging by the Independent carpark, 4WDs and other gas-guzzlers. I was severely tempted to leaflet the vehicles on the day I left with "Alliance Against Urban 4x4s", but I might need some casual work some time...

2/21/2006 06:50:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

You'll have to leaflet wearing a hoodie. :-)

2/22/2006 03:16:00 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Raleigh. A great British company.

Made in China.

2/23/2006 01:13:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...


Raleigh: A great British importer.

etc etc.

2/23/2006 06:29:00 pm  

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