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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 May, 2004, 22:22 GMT 23:22 UK
Ken brands 4x4 drivers 'idiotic'
Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone thinks 4x4s are totally unnecessary
Parents who drive their children to school in huge 4x4 vehicles have been branded "idiots" by London's mayor Ken Livingstone.

"When you see someone trying to manoeuvre it round the school gates, you have to think, you are a complete idiot," he said in a GMTV interview.

Such cars had no place in the city and were largely a status symbol for people with too much money, he added.

The Labour mayoral candidate described the vehicles as "totally unnecessary".

Rugged terrain

But Mr Livingstone did not suggest there was no place for such vehicles.

"When I see a farmer, going over rugged terrain in their four-wheel drive, I think that's a reasonable decision to have been made."

"These are not cars which people should be using in London," he added.

He suggested the money would be better spent on a holiday, in the interview broadcast on GMTV Sunday.

Higher emissions

Mr Livingstone is not the first politician to vent his fury against the increasing popularity of Jeep-type vehicles and Sports Utility Vehicles.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Bakers called for a raft of new laws to control the sale and use of 4x4s.

Like Mr Livingstone, he also wanted to see them banned from the school run.

Mr Baker also argued people owning such vehicles which produce more emissions should pay a higher rate of car tax.

Conservative MP Robert Walter meanwhile called for a ban of off-road vehicles on public footpaths in order to preserve the quietness of the countryside.

What do you think of Ken's comments about 4x4 drivers? Does he have a point or is it none of his business?

The selection of comments below reflects the range of opinion we have received:

Of course he's right. They are a nuisance in car parks and the drivers feel so safe and secure in their armour plate, that they very quickly become aggressive and think every one else should give way to them.
Elaine, Letchworth Garden City UK

I have a 4x4 and use it for a number of uses as well as taking my kids to school. I think Ken Livingstone should shut up and get on with the job he is being paid to do.
Lianne Smith, Dudley, West Mids, England

Well done Ken, I totally agree that unnecessarily large vehicles should carry a punitive level of taxation to reflect the damage they do to the environment in terms of pollution and congestion. Freedom of choice is fine for those with the money to excercise it, but as asthma rates continue to rise in children in London, the time has come to intervene.
Andy Gilbert, London, U.K.

I have to agree with Ken. Although it is everyone's right to spend their money on what they want to, there is something hugely ridiculous about a giant 4 x 4 hurtling along the roads of the cities and suburbs. But worse than that is the arrogance that seems to stem from a 'my car's bigger than your car' attitude.
Sue, Wokingham Berkshire

I couldn't agree more - my road is crammed full of them. Ken will certainly get my vote now!
Maxine Mills, East Sheen, London

What a load of Big Brother-ish garbage! Just about everyone and his dog owns a 4 x 4 (SUV)here in the States, and a lot of our roads through towns are narrow, but there doesn't appear to be any problems. What difference is there in the size of the average 4 x 4 to the larger "family cars"?
Jan Marshall, Beaverton, Oregon, USA

Just for once (!) I totally agree with Ken. These huge vehicles take up more than their fair share of road-space, and one might just as well follow a furniture van from the viewing aspect. I have long held the belief that people who drive huge cars should pay more tax.
Edwina Knight, Teddington, Middx., UK

Ken has a valid point in some ways, A 4x4 is of no use in London, I have one and they are difficult to manoevre in urban areas. However the height advantage and size makes them a very safe vehicle for children. If you take Ken's line of thinking then. We should not have high performance vehicles either as why have a car that can go more than 70 mph. Maybe Red Ken wants us all to have Ladas like in the old Soviet Union...
Steve White, St Austell. Cornwall

That's crazy! It's none of his business, in my opinion. I live in rural montana (half a world from you :) ) and I drive my 4wd Hyundai Santa Fe everywhere as it's my only car. There are lots of places I NEED it - deep snow on untravelled, unploughed roads in the winter, bumpy dirt roads with steep hills (such as the road to my uncle's house), etc. But when I want to drive my car in the city that's my right. And it's a Hyundai - hardly a status symbol.
Mark, Kalispell, MT, United States

More and more, Britain is governed at every level by control freaks. We used to say, with pride, its a free country. In a free country, I can choose my own car.
Richard Foxcroft, Telford, Shropshire

Absolutely right. Owners are apparently too arrogant to realise that these great hulks of metal obscure visibility for anyone next to them at junctions and also that they hide some obstacles - like small children, for example. Get them off the road - the 4x4s, obviously, not the children!
Martin Dunsterville, Birmingham

Judging by Ken Livingstone's arrogant remarks, he seems quite hellbent on making the individuals who can afford these vehicles types, look like they are commiting a type of crime. Perhaps the people who drive these vehicles want a safer ride for their children. If that seems so bad, why doesn't he lobby for a government subsidized transportation system for these children to get to school?
Zul, Toronto, Canada

I, of course, agree with Mr. Livingstone and have always been rather surprised that in a climate as harsh as that of northern Finland one rarely sees a 4X4 in rural areas, let alone urban. Oh, and the kids mostly walk, ski or cycle to school whether it be plus or minus 30 Celsius
Ben King, Oulu, Finland

What absolute rubbish! 4x4s take no more road space or parking space than any other vehicle and owners of larger-engined cars already pay more tax via petrol consumption, road tax, company car scales etc. It is not up to Mr Livingstone or anyone else to tell others what they can and can't spend their money on.
LJS, Stockport, UK

The 4X4 sector has one of the highest percentage of LPG converted vehicles on UK roads, giving just about zero emissions and cheap fuel. Stick that in your congestion charge and smoke it, Ken!
Dave Smart, Burton upon Trent, UK

To the Americans replying to this, we have a very different rurual and urban landscape here so there is little point in drawing comparisons.To those saying we should have the "freedom" to drive what we like, have you heard of something called "responsibility"?Well done Ken.
Chris, Nottingham, England

Call for ban on 'school run' 4x4s
27 May 03 |  Politics
MP calls for 4x4 countryside ban
24 Mar 04 |  Hampshire/Dorset

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