As soon as Alistair Darling announced his planned rises in road tax my nostrils twitched, sniffing a political disaster in the making. It's all very well going after a few thousand rich people - they don't have the collective voice to do much about it, and they wouldn't get much public sympathy anyway. But when you hit people on average earnings with a 30 per cent hike, you're affecting several million people - people like a friend of mine who drives a six year old VW Passat Estate to ferry his wife and three children about in. His wife doesn't work, he earns around £30k a year and really struggles to make ends meet. His car tax is £210 this year and will rise to £300 next year. His car is only worth about five times that amount. He won't be voting Labour next time, that's for sure.
A Labour MP describes this increase as Labour's poll tax on wheels. He may well be right, but can Darling climb down on this too, without looking like a political eunuch? After the 10p tax climbdown, the postponement of the planned rise in fuel duty and the forced changes to CGT this Chancellor is looking more accident prone than Norman Lamont.#end