I pay the AA for breakdown insurance. In any conventional insurance arrangement I'd be called a customer, but for peculiar historical reasons the AA and RAC like to call the people who buy their breakdown cover members.
I'm not a member in meaningful sense. In the unlikely event of my car breaking down I just want to be able to have a cheery fellow in bright yellow van will come and rescue me. I certainly didn't "join" out of any kind of conviction nor, I suspect, did anyone else with an AA card in their wallet.
The AA, however, likes to pretend we did actively join and, further, it can speak on our behalf, and on behalf of the "motoring public" in general. It regularly issues statements on government policy, firing out, for instance, a slew of announcements about fuel duty when the Budget was announced.
Last week Edmund King, AA president (conventional insurance companies have chief executives), popped up on the radio to deride a rather radical proposal from Richmond Council to charge up to £75 pounds a year for permits to park near schools. "Some people live a long way from their child's school", he suggested at one point. Possibly, they needn't park outside the school gate and, in any case, "a long way" is a rather subjective measure. Our kids walk or cycle to and from school. The kids over the road get driven. While I'll concede they don't park right outside the gates, clearly our definitions of "a long way" are rather different.
Stand outside any primary school on the morning, and you'll see dangerous driving craziness caused by a combination of traffic volume, silly parking, and impatience. Anything which might result in fewer kids being driven to school is, I reckon, worth a go and if Richmond think charging is the way to do it, then let them try.
I absolutely didn't give my consent for the AA to speak on my behalf on this or any other matter, nor will I.