A difficulty about democracy is that unpopular decisions being considered by the government of the day can be fudged or delayed for immediate political benefit but to the long term disadvantage of the population at large.
The current furore about building a new railway line from London to Birmingham and beyond is a good example. Opinion polls report a majority of people being against such a scheme. Those whose houses or lands lie near to the proposed new track are politiking earnestly to have the scheme scrapped ostensibly at least, on the grounds of cost.
Meanwhile many people, doubtless including some arguing against the new railway line, have successfully persuaded the government to freeze fuel prices whereas of course train fares are due to increase at rates greater than inflation from January 2014. The outcome is obvious namely the use of cars and their fuel will increase whereas even if the number of train travelers is unaffected, the continuing overcrowding and cost will cause more dissatisfaction with UK train transport.
The logic of building the new railway lines to join up the country more effectively and ease travelling around the place by us all is obvious. I wonder where the opinion polls were taken and who was asked. I doubt if many people living in say Ramsgate or Leeds would have objected whereas the comparatively few living near to the proposed new lines might well have done. While the government of the day is freezing petrol prices increasing rail fares and perhaps failing to build new railway lines, support for the car and complaints about train transport will increase, to the disadvantage of nearly everyone.
Arguments put forward by those living near the proposed new railway track include those of noise in their currently tranquil parts of the land. I can sympathise but like it or not the population of the UK is expanding and there is a logical need to cater for the people. Simply encouraging more people to use their private cars will make for more noise and pollution whereas encouraging us all to travel more by train will reduce noise and fuel pollution. I do understand the comparatively few country side dwellers whose lives might be adversely affected but this understanding is tempered by the probability that when traveling to Town they will not think twice about the noise and pollution they will inflict enroute. I appreciate too that some landowners will have their premises compulsorily purchased or lands divided which is of course unpleasant. Yet when in our previous home we were served with a Labour government Community Land Act notice warning of compulsory purchase for the benefit of all in the area, we eventually had to move. The price paid as I recall was after negotiation, fair and a new supermarket built to serve the whole town and beyond.
Surely the same principle which is essentially that of the 'common good', applies as much to those who live in the affected countryside as to those who live in affected parts of towns?
The sheer pleasure of having our local main road closed to motor traffic for the day only some 4 months ago see
caused so much appreciation of the resulting silence that some locals brought out onto the quiet street, wine and champagne to celebrate. I entirely accept that those who enjoy that peace wish to retain their tranquility but this is where real government comes in. Limiting the noise and pollution caused by strangers using roads away from their homes if applied everywhere, might be interesting but there is no logical reason why some should be privileged in such matters and others have to lump it.
As for aircraft, the expansion of Heathrow is being argued over once more. Already the noise and pollution from aircraft is dreadful for those living in say Stanwell yet are those living near to the proposed HS2 rail route in the Midlands also campaigning against Heathrow expansion for those in Stanwell or in fact do they quietly get on with using Heathrow where the consequential noise and pollution is not really their problem?
There are no easy answers to such problems so strong central government is required to ensure that decisions affecting much of the UK are based on long term logic rather than short term political expediency.