6 November 2000

Fuel protest – have your say

Short, sharp – and in London
ANY further action should take place in London, preferably around Westminster and should be sudden and short.

I have spent most of my life working in African countries and the present govt acts more and more like the governments over there. Isnt the best form of government to be seen and not heard?

As in African countries we are now getting too much inequality, which leads to instability.

Mr B and Co cannot be allowed to get away with the spin.

Tim Roberts

We cant afford another protest
THERE are others to think of in the matter of the fuel problem.

No one – and I mean no one – is happy about the way this excuse for a country is run, but if the threatened protest goes ahead (again) people will suffer.

There are so many small businesspersons like myself out there who simply cannot afford a repeat of Septembers crisis.

I will never regain the money I lost through the actions of others, but I willingly accept that as I was on their side and am relatively grateful that someone has stood up to the corruption which is our government..

However, an election is not so far away and we have all made ourselves heard. Our present government is made up of hard-nosed individuals who must go – and they will, but to damage the massive amount of small retailers like myself this side of Christmas is unthinkable – the consequences are huge and I for one am worried sick.

Please take it out on those responsible and be responsible yourselves – its like me blockading a farm for a week or so and expecting them to like it or lump it.

PW Marsh

Keep it up
I SUPPORT the fuel lobby – do not give in.
F Hodgkin

Its time to stop
NO more protests – the point has been made.
Michael Widen

Dump sheep on the streets
MAY I suggest you off-load a dozen sheep on every street corner of the centre of London.

If the government want to impound the tools of the protesters i.e their lorries and licences, then let them impound the sheep and then find a farmer to look after them and feed them.

This way they may find that there is actually a difference between sheep and people.

All the best to any action you should decide on. Many people out here are still rooting for you.
Jadz and Jo Lenart, Penwortham, Lancashire

Theyre not listening
YES, we think the protest should carry on – after all the government isnt listening.
Jennie and Steve Andrews, Cheltenham

Government should respond to oil market
SHOULD there be another round of protests? Yes. Why?

  • In a democratic society one would hope that when a tax regime is clearly out of kilter with its original conception, i.e oil at $15 a barrel, or whatever, as against the present levels, the tax regime should be altered.

  • Oil company profits remain astronomic and they should also be subject to a changed tax regime which should fund fuel duty cuts at the pumps.

  • Kerosene and red diesel have doubled in base price in the last year – doesnt Ben Gill know this? Have these products been “loaded” to reduce increases of road diesel and petrol prices?

  • Governments are elected to care for the all aspects of national life – this government will not get a second chance at the next election. Unfortunately, though, the civil servants who advise it will still be in place to sway the new government.

Richard G Iliffe

Give it the full 60 days
I THINK nothing should be done before the 60 days are up.

I also think that rather than one concentrated effort, the tactic should be a steady stream of actions. None so big as to discomfort the public – because they will be our greatest ally – but sufficient to keep the protest in the publics awareness.

This should continue right up to the General Election if necessary.

The point we should keep hammering home is the difference in price that we have to pay compared with other Europeans. It is also worth pointing out that in the USA – which is enjoying very prosperous times – fuel prices are lower still.

Dont let us get involved with politics, just keep hammering home the price discrepancies and the effect these are having on UK plc.
Marcus Findlay, Dunbar, East Lothian

Wait until later
THE Government is organised to resist another fuel blockade, so will it have the intended effect?

Will it have public support?

Initailly I think everyone should wait and discuss the problem and then hit them hard with possibly something else – a lorry drivers or hauliers strike, possibly at the start of the new year when all stocks are low.

Whatever action is taken, it must be at least as effective and hopefully better than the last very good protest.
Peter Lawson, Ixworth, Suffolk

Think tactics – is the time right?
THE point has been made, but I believe further direct action may be desirable.

I think that in the present circumstances we must wait to see what is announced in the budget statement next week. If that is not acceptable I do not believe an imediate blockade is desirable if only to show how reasonable we (farmers) all are.

The press then need to see us offer further negociation.

This will inevitably fail, at which point resonable and patient men will be seen taking direct action on the week following.

In September the action was for just long enough and I would not want to see a new period of direct action extented.

From a PR point of view, any action must not have an adverse effect over Christmas and the New year.

I do not believe the public will back disruption over this period. There must be no action after the end of November.

Mid January/February (weather conditions permtting) is the next available window for action. Action during a hard winter will not gain public backing.

Sadly I cannot condone any action that will break our disgraceful laws which prevent public protest.
Gerald Duke

Cause havoc
THE government seems to be creating its own crisis.

Every time a minister says “do not panic”, more rush out to the pumps. If another protest occurs, I will support it not because I am a farmer, but because I believe it is wrong to highly tax what is now an essential item.

Indirect taxes must be targeted at things people can easily do without. Everone is affected directly or indirectly by the price of fuel.
No name supplied

Cause havoc
I THINK that the protesters should stick to their deadline and cause havoc for the government.
Sam Chambers, Sexeys School, Somerset

Well done, Handley
DAVID HANDLEY and supporters should be commended for his continued representation of the public in bringing this Government to heel over the underhand and deceitful way it is financing this country.

We know that the last fuel blockades were inconvenient, but the majority of drivers interviewed in the media agreed with the action.

Where are they now?

It affects all of us still, or do these people only give support if it is the fashion of the week?

Over the past weeks, I have taken more of an interest in the cause and feel that the present true picture is bigger than members of the public or I realised.

  • The Treasury has received several millions, if not billions! With the increase in crude oil prices, where is that to be spent?

  • The fuel tax was implemented by the Conservatives to create a greener Britain, but there is still no alternative for rural communities and even in the cities the trains, busses, trams and boats dont work or supply a real alternative service to independent vehicles for the movement of goods and people in this country. Does this mean you tax fuel until the roads cannot cope as well?

  • Lack of investment and greed are bringing this country to its knees. The “Im all right, Jack” attitude which I feel is just a reflection of successive Governments that have mismanaged, under-invested, tried to fool the public with propaganda, sound bites, spin and lies encouraged by the tabloid media, for too long.

  • The club of bodies that are supposed to support industry all seem to be in bed with the politicians and out of touch with the public. Where is the support from the Unions, consumer associations, and trade body representatives gone? Not just in agriculture and transport, but this affects everyone with a vehicle. Talking and lunches has not worked, we want results, and we want them now, even if there are tough results from these actions.

  • Their will be more vehicles on our roads as the driving population is still expanding and we have greater wealth to afford vehicles. Soon we will see three-plus car families as the norm. So when does the tax stop, as its 80% of the price now. Are governments looking to tax out the use of car and lorry?

  • The knock-on effects of increases in distribution of products affects all the public, as most of the goods we buy are transported on the road, so the consumer is paying twice – once for goods to get to retail outlets and also to go and buy them.

  • Fuel companies are still doing a bit of business with Shell at 3.25 billion profit announcedfor the third quarter this week. We all have to pay for the environment if we want to live in it, not just in this country but the now familiar global picture, but let the biggest benefactors pay as well as the masses. We all want better hospitals, environment, schools and services which cost money, but make sure the money gets to the teachers, nurses, police, paramedics, firemen and the elderly, not the committees that decide the distribution of funds or the consultants to identify the problems.

    Ask the people who are in the front line what is needed. One question is, why do our services not have tax-exempt fuel? That may save a few millions on the funds given to the fire service, police and ambulance service that could be invested into more staff and resources rather than money being given with one hand and taken away with another.

    If you want to encourage public transport, give bus operators a tax break on fuel to encourage a greater number of routes and services for public transport without an increase in cost to the user.

The time is right for some common-sense management of this country and action from all vehicle owners who feel they are paying too much tax on fuel, rather than just letting the few do the hard work for the benefit of the rest.

All opinions should be acted on that is the reason we have a Government.

If you think that fuel prices are even 1ppl too high, you should support the cause in London.

I hope to see a lot more than just farmers and lorry-drivers at the rally on 14 , 2000.
Peter Clark

Ruining my business
FUEL is priced far too high and is ruining the viability of my business.
John Robins, Longbridge Deverill, Wiltshire

Listen to the people
OUR politicians need to be reminded that we are a democracy; the people have overwhelmingly supported a reduction in the fuel tax and Government should therefore listen to the public.
No name supplied

Leave it to the ballot box
I THINK that the point has been made and further protests would lose public support.

The issue should be left to the ballot box in the next year or so.
David Gill, Banff, Aberdeenshire

Put up income tax
I FIND it hard to imagine that you cannot understand why a cut in tax is necessary for our survival.

Perhaps you should raise income tax to help pay for it.

I say that because, as I am not making any money out of haulage, it will not affect me.
No name supplied

If the French can do it, why can;t we?
IVE just been to France, where fuel is 58-60ppl, toll roads can be avoided, and cigarettes, food and drink are much cheaper.

How do they do it ?

Yes, lets protest before Gordon Brown puts us all out of business.
Graham Brown

Blockades could be hijacked
I THINK that the government has got the message and that further blockades will be hijacked by minority activists, which could seriously damage the farming and haulage industries already shaky reputation.

If the government fails to respond by not redirecting some of the fuel tax into enhanced rural infrastructure (I do not believe a large across-the-board tax cut is necessary), it will have a serious shock at the next election.
Tom Mellor

Disgusted at the government
I LIVE and work on a farm, but am not from a farming family.

I am absolutely disgusted with this governments treatment of British farmers.

Not once have they received any support, and the media are just as bad, turning public opinion against farmers at every opportunity.

I am in full agreement with the fuel protest; it frightened Mr Blair and I think it should be done again. Something has to be done, and last time it was very effective.

I do agree with the view that the convoy/march should wait until the 60th day and also that any demonstration should be peaceful.

It would play right into the governments hands if things were to get violent and also, any other so-called protestors from other groups should be sent packing because they are only there to cause trouble.

Another point is, have we still got the NFU? They have been very quiet at a time when they should be one of the loudest voices, quite frankly Im not impressed.

Time and time again I have said there should be one face that the public can associate with speaking for farmers and every time there is yet another damming article against British agriculture this person should be next putting forward the truth.

I have written numerous letters to my local MP and asked them to be passed on to Mr Blair and Nick Brown.

Nick Brown did respond with three pages of waffle, but Im still waiting for Tony Blair to come up with some answers.

I am proud to work in agriculture and am presently studying part time for an MSc at Harper Adams University so that I can hopefully put something back into the industry that has given me a way of life that I enjoy.
Susan Bicknell

Keep clear – remember our subsidies
AS the recipients of large amounts of subsidy, we farmers should not get involved in these fuel protests.
The Cheneys, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire

Dont risk losing public support
I DO believe that their should be a cut in fuel tax. Being of agricultural mind, I can see the benefits.

However, as much as I support the fuel protests, I think great care needs to be taken that public support is not lost.

With the loss of public support, there will be a loss of power from the protestors, giving the government a greater advantage than the one they already hold.
Faye Pellew, Peterborough

Watch out for divide-and-rule tactics
WEVE given this government a chance.

In 1997 they came into power with big ideas and plenty of promises, most of this over-ambitious programme proving impossible to achieve.

The Government have proved that they know nothing about farming or the complex and surprisingly delicate infrastructure of the countryside.

Not only have they let us all down badly, but they continue to kick us in the teeth.

The farming lobby has at its fingertips the power and the will to teach this government some respect, or it has the power to bring them crashing down.

As I write, hauliers, farmers and countryside protesters are already making preparations for another blockade unless the Government bows to their call for a cut in duty on fuel.

But Mr Brown, instead, is considering targeted concessions for hauliers, farmers and rural motorists, hoping that these will make it more difficult forprotesters to gain the backing of the public for a re-run of the blockades of last month.

Mr Brown,we are told, has set his face against a blanket reduction in petrol and diesel duty, but is considering ways of cutting the high cost of motoring for people in country areas where fuel can be 20ppl dearer than in towns.

Drivers in qualifying areas in the Highlands, mid-Wales and remote areas of England could pay 45 instead of the 155 road fund licence for cars over 1200cc under proposals being studied in the Treasury.

The main problem with the proposal is that it will divide urban and rural people still further, setting town against country.

in a Machiavellian way, is this what the Government want as it will assist in the total disempowerment of the countryside lobby?

Blairs argument that fuel tax is linked directly to the NHS, old age pensions and education is completely specious and spurious. In fact, a downright lie.

Fuel tax and these services are not index-linked. A separate budget exists for the NHS; pensions are linked to National Insurance, and education has its own departmental budget.

In fact, fuel tax rises (although governed by the price of crude oil) represent considerable “windfalls” to the Chancellor and go straight into his “war chest”.

This governments wild and unfounded claims fool nobody of any intelligence and will prove to be their downfall.

The argument that lowering the rate of fuel tax will cause increased inflation and interest rates is simplistic and naive.

It is the high price of fuel which drives the price of everything else up, all goods and services dependent on fuel and an obvious “knock-on” effect to small businesses, industry, manufacturing and supply.

Neither side will back down. The evidence of the angry, bad tempered and abusive conflict between the Government and the people of this Ccountry, encapsulated and paraphrased clearly on Wednesdays Newsnight, demonstrates clearly that the conflict can only end in one way: It is in the nature of our Constitution that In a conflict between government and the people, the people will win every time.

I moot that by 6 December, instead of the State Opening of Parliament by the Queen, we will see this government being dissolved and a winter General Election called.

So in answer to “have your say”, Should there be another round of fuel protests – or has the point been made?

I say, Yes; the fuel protests should continue until the Government either gives in or is forced to resign.
Peter Dewar-Finch