Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Winning the cyclist's vote?

It is always easy to find evidence of hypocrisy among politicians, the problem is we all aspire to great ideals but often find it hard to live up to them. David Cameron did hit an own goal when promoting cycling and having his car following him to carry his shoes, document boxes etc but is the weekend's gaffe as serious or actually a gaffe at all from the public perspective? Many of the weekend's newspapers carried the story of him being forced to apologise after breaking a number of road traffic laws while on his cycle being filmed by Daily Mirror journalists, these included: cycling the wrong way down a one-way street and going through a red light. The video posted on the website and shown on BBC News 24 is not exactly damning, especially given that there was a Mirror journalist following him through every misdemeanour. That said politicians it seems are judged by different standards to the rest of us and, perhaps, this is a little more embarrassing after Boris Johnson, fellow Conservative and London mayoral candidate, called for "zero tolerance... [as] we cyclists have got to obey the laws of the road" but how does it play out more widely?

Most cyclists break the rules of the road, it is almost the point of a bicycle; the real problem is often the danger posed to the cyclist but it is whether any infringements are seen as being serious enough to make voters question Cameron's abilities as party leader or prime minister. His actions, and response (akin to saying its a fair cop guv) perhaps suggests he is the same as Mr or Mrs Average on a bike: just getting from A to B as quickly as possible. While the party does stand for 'law and order', it may seem to be a good thing that there may well be a common sense aspect, it is only a problem when it appears to be one law for Mr Cameron and another for all other cyclists. The event will remain in the public consciousness so Cameron needs to be cautious if he is seen to initiate any future clampdown on cyclists, if he does not it may just add to his Dave the ordinary guy credentials.

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