Jamal kick started me on this topic and it’s one very topical in the UK at the moment.

5 years ago we had widescale protests at the level of fuel duty in this country, refineries were blockaded, the lorries organised go-slows on the motorway and petrol stations round the country dried up. I was a field engineer at the time and despite my opposition to the protests and my belligerent attempts to ensure I was on the road every day even if that meant I was the only engineer working for my firm I had to admit defeat for one day.

It is said that the country was 48 hours away from grinding to a halt. Certainly the mayhem accompanying local reports of any fuel arrival was something to behold, having internet access 5 years ago put me ahead of quite a few people and yet when I found somewhere the queue was over a mile long and got longer as I was there.

Frankly I did not believe Tony Blair’s assurances that the government’s policies would not be driven by blockades and pickets and direct action. Shortly after this statement the government’s policy was driven to change by the blockades and pickets and direct action of the protesters.

I have a similar amount of faith in the police force, since during the last protests they refused to get involved, they did precious little to aid the supply of fuel and absolutely nothing to prevent the lorries go-slow campaign despite the fact that HGVs travelling in the outside lane of the motorway is illegal in this country. Chris Fox from the Association of Chief Police officers claimed today that the police would ensure that no individual would be hampered going about their business. I tell you if I get caught behind those C U Next Tuesdays on the way to the Stereophonics gig tomorrow there’ll be bloodshed!

I should explain my reasons for my opposition to the cause since I am not usually opposed to demonstration! Firstly I do not wish to give the impression that I in any way support the policy of the current administration, nor the previous one. In my opinion fuel prices for private vehicles should be high but with certain key provisos: Transport policy must be integrated to ensure that public transport offers a sufficent alternative to all people thus rendering private transport solely a matter of choice and not of enforced decision. Keyworkers in situations where public transportation is not practical such as doctors, nurses or teachers and public servants who need access to remote areas should be excempt from government imposed duty. This should also be the same for any goods and services to such areas and the carriers thereof.

I have a strong belief that an integrated transport policy includes the entire proceeds of taxation on private transportation going directly into the furthering of public transportation. It is my opinion that public transport is not going to be a profit-making enterprise it is providing a service and that should ultimately transcend the need for the books to balance, hence it is fair that those who can afford to have the luxury of a choice between public and private transport methods should pay for those who do not.

It is important for the greatest pollutants to pay more than the lesser ones. Very few people would genuinely be able to justify the use of an SUV or a 7 seater MPV and therefore these vehicles should be taxed punitively not only to discourage the consumer but also the manufacturer. Yes I’m sure there will be many who believe most strongly that this would be an infringement on an individual’s right to choose but I do not agree with that right imposing many conditions on the rest of society.

It may be that this whole policy would have a profound effect on the road haulage industry. I can make no apology for that, I do not believe the bulk of traffic should be carried by trucks running on diesel when it could be done by trains running on electric.

This leads in part to my second fundamental disagreement with the fuel protesters, the people involved are of the reactionary bent, they are not tackling the problem at source they are using it as a rod to beat the government and missing once again a genuine reason to beat the government as I have outlined above. The fuel protesters do not seem interested in the provision of transport for individuals any more than they are interested in reigning in the profane profits of the petroleum companies.

I know of a great many occasions where there have been fuel blockades and where the hauliers have been used to generate mayhem, such protests are rarely ones with the public interest at heart and have been common for example in Central America where they have been extensively used by counter-revolutionary forces.

It’s rather like my disagreements with the Countryside Alliance, whilst I agree that the merits and traditions of the rural way of life must be better understood, I do not believe the genuine agenda of those driving forces behind the CA have any intention of doing so. They are not interested in safeguarding the agricultural jobs of the empoverished in the countryside because had they been so they would not have participated in many of the governments that put paid to these jobs and whole communities. It was the fox hunting that enticed these Hooray Harlots out and had they won that debate and stopped the ban on fox hunting they would have sunk back to their country seats and manor houses safe in the knowledge that their world of priviledge was safeguarded against the evil city oiks.

I will therefore be attempting to defy any fuel blockade however I shall not be joining the pillocks queueing up now for petrol when no crisis exists as I have no desire to become part of that self-fulfilling prophesy. After the last protests I bought 2 5ltr containers and I have a 15ltr jerrycan, that should sort me out for a couple of weeks anyway.

Song Of The Day ~ Santana – Mother’s Daughter

Original Comments:

Mark Ellott made this comment,
Once again we blog on the same issue and are broadly in agreement.
-Redbaron responds – It is no longer a great surprise, comrade! 😉

comment added :: 14th September 2005, 08:02 GMT+01 :: http://longrider.blog-city.com