If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Barry Sheerman - plonker

I was delighted to see a Labour MP getting interested in motorcycling this week. After all, bikes are cheaper to buy than cars, use less of the planet's resources to make, don't use as much of that nasty oil stuff, make less of that horrible CO2, and are the solution to any congestion problem you care to name. Step forward, Mr Barry Sheerman, MP ...

Oh, hang on ...

A Labour MP has urged people to tell their male loved-ones not to ride motorcycles.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman called motorcyclists “widow makers and orphan makers” who were “disgraceful in a civilised society”.

He said: “If you have a husband, boyfriend or son who wants to get a motorbike, please try and persuade them to get something with four wheels instead.”

I don't know where to begin - the rampant sexism of assuming that all bike riders are male (or, perhaps that all riders who are killed are male), which is patently untrue? The Kiplingesque term 'widow-maker'? Pur-lease. Get something with four wheels instead - and kill three mates and a bus queue as well as yourself? And note that it is the motorcyclists themselves who are "disgraceful in a civilised society", not the bikes. It seems that 'love the sinner, hate the sin' hasn't reached Huddersfield yet.

He gets his facts wrong, of course (nothing unusual there when there is a 'valid point' to be made - think of the climate change con). He says that:

“Around 650 people on motorbikes die each year, which is an astonishing figure. "

It is astonishing, because it is wrong. The figure for 2007 was 596, and for 2008, 493. Too high, but not as high as Sheerman is claiming, and note the downward trend. And how many of those deaths were caused by 'safer' car drivers failing to look? Or poorly-maintained road surfaces? Or spilt diesel?

Two thoughts come to mind: one is that Mr Sheerman, to be consistent, would also need to be opposed to other activities by young men which leave widows and orphans ...

Solicitor James Ryan, 37, died after being swept away by an avalanche while skiing in the Italian Alps. He leaves two young children. (Times today, paper edn)

... or is it just those that aren't nice, aspirational middle-class recreations?

And as for "disgraceful in a civilised society", how about looking closer to home?

The senior backbencher, who claimed £8,613 expenses from the taxpayer for car use in a year ...

Lying hypocrite, then.

Two disgraces to civilised society, yesterday.


  1. Huddersfield's Martin Bangemann strikes.

    Speaking of making widows and orphans, wonder if he voted for Iraq and Afghanistan?

    Apropos of that, I did have a bike nicknamed "The Widowmaker" once: a mad on/off GSXR750 that could well have had me appreciating hospital food if someone hadn't stolen it first. I wasn't married at the time, though. (It was followed by "Anathema", the world's least reliable VFR750. I don't usually name bikes, but those were exceptional...

    Gotta say, though: those two look like troublemakers. So does the dog. No excuses for being elderly: remember how that nasty Mr Wolfgang, aged 82, had to be arrested under anti-terrorism laws for heckling A. Blair esq at the Labour conference a few years back? It's true, kids, the Labour party only has your best interests at heart...

  2. The word 'widowmaker' always makes me think of Kipling's Harp Song of the Dane Women. But that's just me.

    What is a woman that you forsake her
    And the hearth-fire and the home acre
    To go with the old grey widowmaker?

    I have never named bikes - or cars, for that matter. That doesn't stop me giving the XT a pat on the bum when she has been especially good, though.

    I thought Mr Wolfgang behaved shockingly at the conference. Breaking that nice guard's fingernails with his lapels, and creasing his suit by resisting being thrown in a police van. Shameful.

  3. Widowmaker is the nickname of the Suzuki TL100S with the scary rear rotary type damper. And what would he know about civilised society.


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