My electric car journey from hell shows buyers must beware

This week, Grant Shapps announced a target of 300,000 more chargers across the country by 2030, the year when the Government says it will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel powered cars. Fatally, he’s left it to local authorities to make sure the roll-out happens. Mark my words, it won’t. Not without national direction.

My advice is this. If you only do relatively short journeys, then buying an electric car is a good decision. If you regularly travel more than 150 miles, it isn’t. In my experience, the car manufacturers lie about the expected range. My electric car is supposed to do 298 miles. The reality is that it does 206, or 215 if the weather is warm. Caveat emptor.

Two years of Keir

Today marks the second anniversary of Keir Starmer’s election as Labour leader. Few would have thought it possible to detoxify his party so quickly and get rid of the lunatics, extremists and closet anti-Semites. But he has largely achieved it. 

He’s purged the Corbynites from his front bench and shadow cabinet and replaced them with fresh faces, such as Wes Streeting, Rachel Reeves and Lisa Nandy, none of whom frighten the electoral horses. Becoming leader of the opposition at the start of a pandemic was never going to be easy, but despite several low points, Starmer has matured as a leader. 

Yes, he’s charismatically challenged; yes, he appears a little boring; and yes, the party’s recent muddle over the issue of gender suggests he is some way from convincing many voters he speaks their language. But, in reality, if he builds the confidence to show his true personality and demonstrate a hunger for power, Boris Johnson will have a problem on his hands. 

In two years’ time, an election campaign may well be under way. Starmer now needs to move into a different mode. Labour’s offering at the moment is one long whinge about how awful things are and are going to get. They may well be right, but it’s not enough. 

In 1980, Ronald Reagan looked into a camera and delivered the devastating line: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Few Americans could answer in the affirmative. But he won not just by pointing out Jimmy Carter’s failures, he prevailed because he offered a positive vision of sunny uplands. Starmer’s electoral fate hangs on whether he and his team are able to do the same.

Falklands memories

Another date to remember this weekend was the 40th anniversary of the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands. It has received scant coverage from our national broadcaster. 

I well remember visiting friends in Germany at the time. My friend’s father, a veteran of the Wehrmacht in Normandy, said that Britain would never go to war to recover the islands. “You don’t know Margaret Thatcher,” I said. 

A few weeks later, I was asleep in my university digs in Norwich. Someone knocked on the door. “Have you seen the papers this morning? You should,” my friend said. Eventually, I got up and picked up a newspaper in the communal kitchen. And there it was. My name. Welsh Guardsman Ian Dale, killed in the Falklands at the age of 20. 

Each year since then, I’ve thought of him, and in 2002, on the 20th anniversary of the war, I dedicated my book Memories of the Falklands to his memory.

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