Ed Balls has called for the Government to reverse the VAT rise on motor fuels.
This is transparent political opportunism, trying to outflank the Tories and position for the 'middle ground' of the motoring vote.
However the reality is such a reversal would be deeply regressive. The people who benefit most would be motorists who drive the thirstiest cars, and those who drive the most miles. In case he hasn't noticed, there are a few other, more essential things, such as food and heating oil which are suffering from high price inflation. Not to mention bus and train fares. It would be a lot more progressive to give every family in the country a fixed sum as a bonus to compensate for inflation. Alternatively, the shadow chancellor might propose giving people more alternatives to using the car - investing in cycling and public transport for example.
But no. Mr Balls is proposing to incentivise driving - effectively to make driving relatively cheaper than greener forms of transport. There's no particular reason to rely on fuel prices to force cars off the road, but if you're going to reduce the price of driving, you need to take other action to ensure we don't become more car-dependent. This is exactly what the Labour government didn't do in its 13 years in power, during which time motoring costs reduced significantly. The boom years would have been the right time to invest in greener transport, preparing the country for the time when oil becomes pricier. Labour's other Ed (Miliband) needs to detail how he's going to do things differently next time.