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Well he would say that, wouldn’t he…

January 20, 2012

Blyth, England – After all he is a politician!!

This week in an attempt to generated some much-needed publicity the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) have published an exclusive interview with Mike “the bike” Penning MP, UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport and self-styled “Minister of Motorcycling”.

As a veteran of many interviews, covering motorcycle issues, with high-ranking Civil Servants and on occasion Ministers I had hoped for something new. Experience told me that was unlikely and I was not disappointed. Penning’s answers are to say the least to brief, a brief that appears to have been dusted off and reused over and over again in the past ten years whatever questions are asked.

So with an admitted slightly satirical curve here is what our “Minister of Motorcycling” is actually saying:-

Penning: “reveals himself as a motorcyclist keen to tackle the issues facing motorcycling today.”

BRR: Nothing new there then. Previous Transport Ministers have also been “keen to tackle the issues” but although they didn’t style themselves “Minister of Motorcycling”. Then with hindsight they didn’t  “tackle the issues” either. Has anyone seen the “issues”?

Penning: “having first started riding motorcycles as an Army despatch rider, currently owns a 900cc Ducati Monster and a Royal Enfield and despite his own riding being limited these days.”

BRR: Mrs Penning has worked out that it’s not really a good idea for fairly rotund fifty year old geezers to wobble around at weekends on Duc’s.

Penning: “Tackled over the thorny problem of rider testing and licensing, the Minister said that he fundamentally disagreed with the previous administration’s knee-jerk reaction to the European legislation on testing. “I keep referring to a single test and I still think that’s the best idea.”

BRR: Good move always blame the previous Government for a mess. Hey Mike you might like to blame the UK motorcycle industry too. After all they were at all the meetings nodding approval. Ahh the single test nirvana syndrome. Which of course will be introduced in January 2013 in line with the 3rd Driving Licence Directive when prospective riders will be able to take a single test for each category of motorcycle licence.

Penning: “saw motorcycles as “an enormous benefit for the environment because of their ability to keep moving, give off less emissions and cause fewer traffic problems than a car.”

BRR:  Yes very true, but four earlier transport Ministers saw it that way too!

Penning: “It’s not so much about getting people on to two wheels, but rather getting people to stay on two wheels – and stay safe.” 

BRR: The UK Department for Transport will never endorse a mode of transport it considers unsafe.

Penning on red tape: “streamlining the SORN arrangements by removing annual renewals was just a start.”

BRR: Probably the start of more stolen and dodgy bikes for sale.

Penning on European issues: “he had permission from the Prime Minister to “push back as strongly as possible” on anything he didn’t like and on the Commission’s latest Type Approval legislation he said he would do just that.”

BRR: A nice sop to the Conservative right-wing and the “its all Europe’s fault biker” brigade, based in Almeria I believe. As for Type Approval legislation there’s basically naff all Penning can do about it apart from making a show about keeping customising safe via the UK’s sensible Single Vehicle Approval Scheme.

Interviews with politicians don’t you just love em!

Ride with pride.

© Back Roads Rider 2012

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2012 8:50 am

    Good to see someone who’s as cynical about politicians as I am!

  2. January 20, 2012 10:10 am

    And I quote: “BRR: The UK Department for Transport will never endorse a mode of transport it considers unsafe.”

    Not sure I agree with you there…the DoT is actively encouraging cycling. …or tell me why pedal power is safe then?

    Mad, I say, mad!!!

  3. January 20, 2012 10:26 am

    Now now, you should be very well aware of the glacial timescales on which the Sir Humphreys operate. The first two or three years of any Minister’s tenure (and they rarely last longer) is taken up with trying to wrestle them off of the course that – sadly, Minister – was irrevocably committed to by the previous incumbent.

    Penning has already implemented some common sense improvements to the module 1 test and – vitally – stuck two fingers (or 2kph) up at Brussels on the speed components. And that’s allowed him to (more or less) commit the DSA to return to a single on-road test, once the safety wonks have been mollified by the appropriate level of studies showing that something that use to happen can in fact happen again.

    He can’t – as you yourself say – do anything about the meat of European dictats, so heaping the issue of multiple 3DLD tests on his lap is unfair. Does he have any option but to implement it?

    And finally, he is a politician and does sadly need to use political language – many a Minister has been turfed out for speaking his mind too plainly. I don’t really mind that, I’m more interested in what he does than what he says, and what he’s been doing seems to me to be entirely positive.

    Has he, to your knowledge, actually done anything to harm motorcycling?

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      January 21, 2012 12:00 am

      I’d suggest that no politician sets out to deliberately harm any group. After all politicians like to get re elected!

      However it’s the consequences of decisions that politicians take on particular groups that concerns me.

      The long term effects of things like the relaxation of SORN, the increase of the speed limit on motorways and dual carriageways, failure to lower the drink drive limit, failure to implement compulsory eye testing for vehicle drivers and moving to the European time zone may a have a greater impact on motorcycle and scooter users than other vehicle users.

      Your point on the 3rd DLD. If Penning can manage through a “light touch” regime on that, in the face of Driving Standards Agency pressure not too, he will have done us all a favour.

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