Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fuel Protests threatened

According to BBC News, Fuel Lobby (formerly known as People's Fuel Lobby) are threatening protests at refineries if the government doesn't cut fuel tax. PFL were involved in the last one although the BBC wrongly name them as the organisers.

The last fuel protests were in 2000 and embarassed the government immensly. The protests had been planned by hauliers but they were beaten to it by a group of militant farmers who kicked the protest off early. The hauliers brought forward the date of their protest and joined the farmers.

Things were going well, the country was brought to its knees but importantly the public, who were fed up of increasing fuel prices and road tax, were behind them.

After a week or so, things changed. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) poked their noses in and said they'd done what they needed to do which was kind of amusing as they had bugger all to do with it. Then the Sun mysteriously changed their mind overnight and instead of publishing stories in support of the protests, they started publishing stories saying how irresponsible it was.

The stories the Sun carried were basically word for word regurgitations of the government propoganda being pushed out at the time. They said that lorries were blockading refineries, that tanker drivers had been threatened and that ambulances were running out of fuel. All lies and I'll tell you why ...

The lorries were not blockading the refineries. To do so would have been illegal and there was a police presence at every protest. There were also news crews at every protest - where was the news footage of this happening?

The tanker drivers were not threatened - again, the police were present and so were news crews. The tanker drivers also have to buy fuel and fuel tax as well and they were shafted by their employers. They refused to drive in sympathy with the protests and because the oil companies told them to divert deliveries intended for hospitals to petrol stations which the drivers refused to do.

The emergency services and military were never short of fuel. The emergency services have stocks of fuel in case of emergency. Think about it. The military have private pipelines from onshore and offshore refineries - when was the last time you saw a tanker delivering to a military base? Even if the emergency services' fuel supplies started getting low, they would still be able to replenish them from the military.

The whole thing was a lie. If was the government propoganda machine getting into full swing. They leaned on the press (particularly the Sun) and they fed the public with disinformation. The combination of this, the disasterous attempts by RHA to try and take the credit for the protests and the refusal of the big hauliers like Eddie Stobart to get involved (Stobarts fill their lorries up in France) brought the whole thing crashing down and prices remained high.

I really do hope that this time they go ahead and they work. My source has their doubts as to whether it will go ahead (why give a weeks notice to the government so they can plan for it?) and if it does whether it will work at all.

The government have shown their contempt for the opinions of the general public on many occassions and there is little to suggest they will listen now. A treasury spokesman said cutting tax would not solve the problem of high oil prices. That is correct but about 4/5ths of the price of fuel is tax so you see, it's already started?

Other people blogging on this topic:

The Blog of Kev
The England Project (trackback)