Fuel protests… all gone quiet over there

‘Andrew Spence, the man behind the People’s Fuel Lobby, arrived at dawn with nine men to stand forlornly outside a refinery in Jarrow, South Tyneside. By midday, they had been joined by one man with a placard, five empty buses, 29 traffic cones and five policemen.’

I missed the fuel protests that almost closed the country in 2000, because in keeping with my habit of being on holiday when bad things happen I was holidaying abroad.

Sadly some of those who were there panicked at the thought of a sequel. There were long queues at the country’s petrol stations from Monday. As I walked to the pub on Tuesday night, the local Texaco was taking a delivery. They’d run out of petrol earlier in the day and still weren’t ready to serve anyone. A long queue had formed already. Fortunately, I didn’t need any petrol. And even more fortunately the fuel protests could not have flopped more completely.

The UK Petroleum Industry Association said yesterday’s protest had proved “thankfully amazingly quiet”, with the largest event, attended by People’s Fuel Lobby leader Andrew Spence, attracting just 10 protestors at its peak. At the Stanlow oil refinery, which was blockaded in 2000, only two protestors attended the demonstration. They’ve been rightly ridiculed and clearly have no public support.

I guess panic is unfortunately infectious, so while I’m disappointed that people are so easily scared, I suspect people understand that oil is a complex global market, badly hit by Hurricane Katrina… and nobody likes a road hogging truck driver. Of course, had I been on holiday things might have turned out differently.

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