Leading article: Riding for a fall

Sunday 23 October 2011 04:24

Few British MPs have ever been expelled from Parliament and sent to prison. Among the handful were a couple of Jacobites and John Wilkes, the radical hero who fled to America to avoid trial for libel in the reign of George III. Will the Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik be the next to join them?

Possibly, though the cause for which he is ready to risk jail is neither parliamentary liberty nor loyalty to an exiled dynasty, but the right to ride his Segway.

British law forbids riding these curious-looking two-wheeled scooters on roads and cycleways for safety reasons. But along with other MPs and a brace of earls, Mr Opik is prepared to defy the law and will take to the streets of London today on their Segways for a spin. One problem with the Segway is that people sometimes lose their balance and fall off, so one must hope none of today's lawbreakers crash their scooters, as George Bush once did. One cannot quite discern the outlines of a national movement over this, but who knows? The right to ride a Segway may yet set the country aflame.

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