Continental are well aware of the issues and challenges that face motorcycle and scooter riders in the UK today. We have been proud to be associated with MAG for some time now, and we always look forward to meeting their members as well as offering advice and a free tyre check.
That is why we were pleased to see this weekend that former MP Lembit Opik is adding his passion for motorcycling to their Communications and Campaign team.As part of their newly streamlined team of professionals, he will work to stand up to threats to riders rights, whilst expanding the use of motorcycles and scooters in the UK along with biking campaigns guru , Dr Leon Mannings.
Lembit’s new role as Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) was announced this weekend during the Motorcycle Live Show in the NEC. This will put him at the heart of UK motorcycling and the new team at the core of MAGs Campaigning and Lobbying activities. ‘People know me for a lot of things! But few of them know biking’s been an enduring part of my life. I rebuilt my Yamaha YB100 in 1982, and have ridden two wheels ever since. Currently I’ve got a Suzuki GS1000, and am as passionate as ever – and that’s why taking on this new role feels like coming home.’
An as MP, Lembit chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group for Motorcycling, and says that during that time the Department of Transport saw bikers as more of a hassle than an answer to congestion and pollution problems. He now believes that this attitude is changing, and he has a good relationship with both the new chair of the group, Steve Baker MP and the Transport Minister Robert Goodwill MP who Lembit believes will be much more engaging on bike policy matters.
Leon summed up the changes by saying that with a newly sharpened approach, a better relationship between bureaucrats and bikers is evolving. Its about to become even more productive. I’ve worked and won on issues before, and we now have better prospects than ever for really moving the positive role of motorcycling further up policy agendas – at Local and Central Government levels.’
MAG Chairman, John Mitchell, underlines MAGs determination to boost the strength and penetration of its voice for bikers. ‘We’ve always been at the forefront of battles over issues for bikers since we formed to fight the authoritarian helmet law in 1973. Other threats have come our way, most involving the replacement of common sense with patronising over-regulation. Lembit and Leon are a tremendous new force in the fight-back for freedom: the Institute for Economic Affairs even identified Lembit as the most ‘libertarian’ MP in the country, and he really does ‘walk the freedom talk’ in word and deed. Leon has an excellent mental map of the policy jungle, and has a key role in our awesome team. Changing the regulatory tide is bigger than just biking – it’s actually about liberty. With Leons insight, clarity and stamina, real progress looks likely. And, if one person combines political focus with the passion needed to fully reflect MAG’s determination to defend the heart and soul of biking – it’s Lembit Öpik.’
We very much look forward to seeing the results as Lembit and Leon get to work!