7 November 2000
Fuel protest – have your say


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
PJC@farmersweekly.net


Ruining my business
FUEL is priced far too high and is ruining the viability of my business.
John Robins, Longbridge Deverill, Wiltshire
john@jwfrobins.freeserve.co.uk


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
wiracc3@aber.ac.uk


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
davygill@farming.co.uk


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
wheelcarter@farmersweekly.net


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
witch-@farmersweekly.net


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
tom.mellor@farmersweekly.net


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
forsterhallandsons@farmersweekly.net


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
richard.cheney@virgin.net


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
endre.johansen@chamberlainpr.co.uk


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
scrappity@4u.callnetuk.com