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banner Thursday, 5 October, 2000, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Blair ridiculed over fuel crisis
Petrol tanker
Blair accused of mishandling of fuel crisis
Tory representatives at their party's annual conference in Bournemouth have overwhelmingly backed a motion calling for the immediate lowering of fuel duty.

The motion came after shadow chancellor Michael Portillo had already announced that a Tory government would cut fuel by at least 3p per litre.


Under Labour, people are paying around 350 more per year for their petrol - equivalent to a 2p rise in the basic rate of income tax

Richard Ottoway
Replying to a debate in which every speaker had attacked Labour's record on fuel taxation, Tory treasury spokesman Richard Ottaway ridiculed the government over its handling of the recent petrol crisis.

He said: "It wasn't until the Labour luvvies in Islington couldn't get to the delicatessen to buy their sun-dried tomatoes that the prime minister knew that he had a crisis on his hands."

"[The government] were out of touch. They weren't listening. They didn't listen to our road hauliers and our farmers whose livelihoods are being destroyed," he said.

"They didn't listen to hard pressed families and businesses who have been hit by Labour's stealth taxes. They didn't listen to a nation that said enough is enough.

"I will tell you what sort of crisis it was Mr Blair: It was a crisis of judgement, a crisis of management, above all, a crisis of trust."

"Under Labour, people are paying around 350 more per year for their petrol - equivalent to a 2p rise in the basic rate of income tax," said Mr Ottaway.

"I tell you now, at least 3p per litre can prudently be taken off the tax on fuel without any cuts in public services. It's what a Conservative government would do."

He told Tony Blair "to move over and make way for the man the people can trust - William Hague."

Cars no luxury - Ottoway

Cars, he argued, were a necessity no a luxury and "in rural areas people depend on cars for their daily lives".

Labour was hostile to the car and it showed nowhere more than in the government's taxation policy.

In May 1997 when Labour came to power petrol cost 59p a litre - it was now over 80p, he said.

He said former Labour chancellor Dennis Healey said he would "tax the rich until their pips squeak" but this government taxed "hard working families".

"We will cut taxes because we have found that the people of this country know better than any government how to spend the money they earn."

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See also:

14 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Blair faces heavy price for fuel gamble
28 Sep 00 | Business
Fuel protests hit shopping sprees
28 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Has Labour's poll slide halted?
24 Sep 00 | Labour
Blair comes out fighting
23 Sep 00 | UK
Brown fights for oil relief
20 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Tory fuel pledge 'too small'
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