Monday, 19 March 2012

Privatised roads? Bring Back Rebecca

Some of you young folk may not be aware that this country has had privatised or pay-as-you-go roads before: hence the sprinkling of rather pretty toll-houses around the country. Just like this week, it didn't go down very well with the public (or public finance and transport experts).

My favourite anti-privatisation group was the Rebecca Rioters. Taking their name from a verse in Genesis ('possess the gates of those who hate them'), the poor of South Wales dressed up as women (even before rugby and stag night entertainments were heard of) and demolished turnpike gates and toll houses in the early 1840s, about the same time as the Chartists were agitating for democracy. 

The turnpikes were hated because the peasantry was being onerously taxed for bringing goods to market, especially during a period of low prices and high taxation - forced off the land, the peasantry feared the prison-labour of the Workhouses, designed just like now, to punish unemployment as though the individual was personally, morally responsible for his situation. 

Time to bring them back.

1 comment:

Ellesar said...

As if poor people aren't already marginalised enough in our transport options!