Drivers angry about the rising cost of petrol have been demonstrating in London today, causing chaos across the capital. The organisations responsible for the protest want the government to cut of up to 25p per litre in fuel duty within seven days or they will start to blockade the country’s oil refineries and sea ports.
Ministers would be wise not to take on these people. They speak for the majority of drivers, and indeed the wider public, who have seen massive hikes in their cost of living in the UK.
At the last fuel tax revolt in 2000, the average price for a litre of petrol had gone over 80p. Today it has gone over £1.30, with more rises expected in the next few days. This next revolt, at a time when the country is facing economic meltdown, is one thing our beleaguered government doesn’t need. Plans for a 2p increase in duty in October may yet be abandoned, and frightened Labour MPs have come to their senses by asking Chancellor Alistair Darling to rethink a proposed increase in car tax.
There is still time for the members of the current government to climb down and speak to the protesters, and to make concessions where necessary. Otherwise, the country would grind to a halt again, and their already battered credibility would sink even further than it has already.