I took my car to be repaired this morning - an altercation with a dry stone wall in a dark country lane, since you ask - and was given a lift to the train station by a young man from the garage, a motor car professional, if you like. We passed a newly erected speed camera. He pointed it out to me, sighed loudly, and said (I kid you not): “It's health and safety gone mad. Literally.”
Oh well, I thought, there's at least one vote for Godfrey Bloom. The man who put Bongo Bongo Land on the map, he who was so extreme in his views that he was beyond the pale for Ukip, has declared his intention to stand for Parliament at the next election representing the Drivers' Union, a pressure group which feels that British motorists get a raw deal. “They are the most Britain's most oppressed group of people,” said Bloom. I wondered who he could have been talking about. Bulgarian immigrants? Single mothers? Businessmen who bank with RBS?
But no, the fact that we can't drive our cars at exactly the speed we'd like constitutes, in the eyes of Mr Bloom and his new colleagues, a breach of fundamental human rights. Mr Bloom may not have been born lucky. He chose to make his pronouncement on the very day that reports emerged of a terrible accident in which an 88-year-old couple, married for 54 years, were taking an evening stroll, hand in hand, along a lane in rural Wales and were mown down by a blue hatchback. Both died as a result of their injuries.
“Speed...has nothing to do with accidents,” said Mr Bloom. This is a variation on the “guns don't kill, people do” argument, and even the most committed petrolhead would struggle to make that idea stick. The Drivers' Union website is uncompromising. “Drivers must be more assertive and united to get the treatment they deserve,” it states. These are people who have basically converted their road rage into a political manifesto.
Nonetheless, there is something in Mr Bloom's complaint that, in their focus on motoring offences, the authorities are motivated more by revenue-raising rather than road safety. I speak with some authority on this subject, having had three parking tickets, my car towed away and two speeding fines in recent weeks. Serves me right, you'll say. And that's correct: I don't have any complaints about the errors I made to suffer this series of highly irritating reversals.
As far as my speeding offences were concerned, I was offered the opportunity to attend a one-day speed awareness course, thereby avoiding penalty points and a fine. It would cost me £85 and I'd have had to take a day off work. “I don't know of anything else in the British constitution,” said Mr Bloom, “where the police can suspend prosecutions in exchange for money.” I rather agree with him. Do offenders choose a day in the classroom because they want to learn about how to drive safely? Of course not. They want to escape prosecution. What next? Send bankers on an embezzlement awareness course? Oh no. I've just agreed with Godfrey Bloom. Is there no hope for me?