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Sunday, 19 November, 2000, 12:17 GMT
Fuel protests: Who will you support?

The UK is counting down to another possible fuel crisis, with reports that people are already starting to panic buy petrol "just in case".

Hauliers and farmers who manned the blockades in September are calling for a 26.2p per litre cut in fuel duty and have threatened to blockade London with up to 25,000 lorries should their demands be ignored.

Home Secretary Jack Straw has told MPs that a second fuel protest could bankrupt companies, cause job losses and create severe problems for hospitals.

Who will you be supporting this time? Do you think the country will grind to a halt again? HAVE YOUR SAY The rights of individuals to protest should not be allowed to be undermined by politicians. However let's not forget that at the heart of the lorry drivers' and farmers' protest is the desire for greater profits. Cheaper fuel will not produce cheaper transport costs or benefit the shopper in any way, it will just produce a higher profit margin for the operators.
Stewart Johnson, UK

While we have problems electing a President, why do you ( the British) let your government raise the price of gasoline every 6 months. We may use more fuel than yout do, but we don't have a government that raises taxes at will. We still have say "no" to taxation without representation. Your politicians are cutting your throats to make up the government budgets.
Stanley Green, USA

I support the fuel protestors 100%,furthermore I think its about time the British public took a stand against the inflated prices that we have to pay in relation to the rest of Europe.
Donald Macgregor, Scotland

I wish people would stop whinging about the fuel prices in this country. If you can afford to own a car as opposed to using public transport you should suffer the consequences of rising fuel prices. This is an OPEC issue and not one for the British Government. Sometimes I think people living in the UK forget how lucky they are when more than half the world is having to worry about their next meal.
James Muil, UK


The Government must stop this silly policy

Mr M. Brown, England
I live on Teesside and work in the Sunderland area. I currently have to travel by car the distance of 76 miles per day: I would love to use the train to go to work but the nearest station is three miles away. Instead of costing me currently around £6.00 per day, it would cost me £7.20 per day to travel on the train. Also the journey takes approx 40 minutes longer and the return journey would mean me having to wait for a train after work for approx 40 minutes!! The Government must stop this silly policy of trying to tax people out of their cars without providing them with a real viable alternative.
Mr M. Brown, England

It is better to have a larger proportion of tax on fuel than on the vehicle itself. This means you pay for what you use. People with large cars travelling a lot can pay more than an old lady who does the occasional shopping run.
Simon, England

Regardless of whether or not the protesters' wishes are justified, the government cannot allow itself to submit to this type of bullying. As we have seen it only takes a small number of people to bring the country to a standstill. If the government shows that it is willing to back down under such actions, minority groups would see how easy it is to manipulate government policy. We would soon see the country grind to a halt every time there is an issue opposed by a mere few claiming to be the voice of "the people".
Richard, Scotland


Just try getting home in the rush hour with a big heavy box

John B, UK
I doubt many people would argue that champagne is a luxury item. For many people petrol is a necessity given the total lack of public transport. So how come petrol is taxed more heavily than champagne? Even living in London public transport is worthless if you need to carry large or heavy loads with you - just try getting home in the rush hour with a big heavy box and you'll soon be back in your car!
John B,UK

There are alternatives to fossil fuels, some cheaper, others not so. You can get grants towards converting internal combustion engines to these fuels, but they are not publicised. The fuel protesters do not represent me, but the Government certainly could handle things better.
Dave, UK

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the protest, there are no serious comparisons to be drawn between the gaunt, grim faces of the Jarrow marchers and the appearance of the lorry drivers.
Fran Beaton, UK

Due to a strong majority, New Labour have been able to impose many measures that do not necessarily reflect people's wishes. When people object they reply they will not be led by populism. I understand the protestors and sympathise with their frustrations. However, the government has chosen bully tactics and will use the army, police etc to suppress any protest. The only thing we can do is vote them out at the next election. However, New Labour have just disenfranchised me (they introduced a new rule saying ex-pats who have lived overseas for five years or more can not vote). Bully tactics again - more than 2 million Brits. have lost their right to vote under New Labour. Democracy has taken a step backwards.
A. Morly, Br. Ex-pat, U.A.E.


I think the fuel protesters should be satisfied with the concessions they have already got

J.M. Mansfield, UK
I think the fuel protesters should be satisfied with the concessions they have already got. Surely the way forward is to use money from fuel taxes to develop a clean, environmentally friendly means of transport so that we do not have to rely on fossil fuels to get about. Many people I know subscribe to this view.
J.M. Mansfield, UK

I fully support the Government's stance over fuel duty. UK residents seem to have forgotten that private cars are, with the exception of rural residents, a luxury. Nor do they realise that in order to have the same fuel prices as our French neighbours we would need to exponentially increase income tax and I seriously doubt that would be popular. Would the UK populous really rather pay 45% tax or risk losing vital public services? I doubt it.
Tina Jaques, UK

Does anyone else suspect this whole protest movement is being orchestrated from Conservative Central Office. It's the only way they can make a comeback and appear to be 'in touch'.
John, England


High fuel prices affect everyone

Richard, England
I would not mind paying so much for fuel if the tax was spent on the UK's transport infrastructure (including public transport). With the price of fuel as it currently stands, it costs me over £3,000 a year just to get to and from work, of which nearly £2,500 goes to the Government - and that is before you add VAT! High fuel prices affect everyone, as increased transportation costs are simply passed on to the consumer with higher prices for bread and milk, so even cyclists end up paying for higher fuel prices.
Richard, England

I do not support the fuel tax protestors and after asking around at work I have not found anyone who does. I think that public support for the protestors was just media hype. I do not want increased inflation and higher mortgages as a result of big tax cuts and think that fuel should carry an environmental tax. I have no sympathy for 'hard-up' farmers as many of their problems seem to be self-generated by greed such as feeding incorrect food to cattle and creating the BSE crisis.
Richard Webb, UK

With regard to hauliers and farmers, it strikes me that the situation is probably made worse by supermarkets fiercely competing by lowering produce prices. This will surely mean the farmer is not paid a fair price for the produce, and hauliers are not paid a fair price for transporting it. So the real 'villains' are ultimately the public who would not tolerate an extra 10p on the price of a lettuce and, ironically, would also insist on lower petrol prices. This just illustrates the implicit unfairness of market economics.
Robert C, UK

I think it's disgusting that a group of selfish motorists can be seen to hold the country to ransom over the price of fuel. I'm also sick of being told that the whole country is behind the protest. I don't know anyone who is backing this protest. In fact I think that petrol should be rationed. Less fuel, less pollution.
Emma, England


Nobody should be supporting these so-called fuel protestors

Steve, Scotland
Nobody should be supporting these so-called "fuel protestors". Firstly, they are not paupers and certainly do not represent the people. Most important of all, though, is the fact that we should be using less petrol and not more. The rate of use of fossil fuels is accelerating and needs to be reduced.
Steve, Scotland

Just after the last war, the Government needed the farmers for food and the countryside was a place for shelter from the bombing. Now farmers are being battered out of their jobs that have kept this country thriving during the hardest times. Give back dignity to these strong workers of the country.
Stuart Standard, Liverpool

It seems to me that many people who live in rural areas think that those living in urban areas have it 'easy', but 20% of my income goes on public transport to and from work (and nobody is protesting about that). I have to travel in overcrowded tubes and buses and can't even afford the luxury of a car even if I wanted one. During the fuel protest in September my bus journey to work was cut from 45 minutes to 15, as people left their cars at home. We also have to put up with pollution caused by all the traffic coming into London. At least people who live in rural areas have clean air to breathe, and their children can play outside without fearing that they will be killed by the traffic.
Miriam, UK


The cost of fuel in Britain is outrageous

Edward Martin, Germany (ex-UK)
I support the protestors. The cost of fuel in Britain is outrageous and is considerably more expensive than in the rest of Europe. How is anyone who relies on their vehicle to earn a living supposed to cope with those prices?
Edward Martin, Germany (ex-UK)

The Chancellor and the Prime Minister have lost sight of two important factors in the discussion about fuel prices.

1. They have virtually ignored the everyday motorist who continues to pay prices beyond perceivable value.
2. They have not addressed the fact that the true cause of the price problem is excessive taxation and not the base price of oil.

Thankfully the next election is not too far away.
Tom Williamson, UK

Is this protest any different to the Poll Tax protests? In both cases the aim was to get the Government to change its policy.
Caron, England


Nobody has a right to proclaim themselves as a special case above all others

Andrew, UK
I don't see why the country and our elected Government should be held to ransom by the self-styled "representatives of the people". Although I have plenty of sympathy for the farmers, I have just as much for the health workers, miners, steelworkers, pensioners, low paid workers, single parents and a million others. Nobody has a right to proclaim themselves as a special case above all others.
Andrew, UK

If you don't ask you don't get. Do nothing and the tax on petrol will not go down. Complaining is the way to alert governments that their policies are disliked by the people.
Harry, UK

I live in a rural area on a very low income and getting a pint of milk is a 4 mile trip, but do I support the fuel protestors? Of course I don't. People who want a cut in the price of petrol are simply greedy and selfish. The tax we pay on petrol is an important way of financing the country and keeping income tax fair. All this episode has done is shown the selfishness of of modern society.
Rich Irwin, UK


Not everybody can 'walk'

John McGovern, Scotland
I would like to remind Neill Osbourne, that not everybody can 'walk'. I am a disabled person and because I use a wheelchair, find that my Motability car is my only viable means of transport, True, buses are now being adapted to take wheelchairs but how on earth do we get to our nearest bus stops, if we can only manage to push ourselves a few yards?
John McGovern, Scotland

Of the millions of journeys made by car every year, a percentage could be made by alternative means. Even car drivers will tell you this! However, the 'me' culture reigns supreme and militates against any hope of minor self sacrifice. Sharing a car even once a week is probably worth 50 pence off a litre of petrol! Come on car drivers - think of others for once and liberate yourselves from the inanimate piece of metal worshipped on the altar of environmental and personal degradation.
Paul Higate, UK

It's a disgrace that these so-called protesters have latched onto the Jarrow (my home town) march in a pathetic attempt to obtain more public support. Those who marched, to object to the Government's lack of interest in their home town's plight, would be appalled to have been connected to these people. The real problem is the profits of Shell, BP et al. The people who run these companies get richer by making people like me pay more. It's these people that the protestors should be having a go at.
Ed, UK


Don't the people in these flooded areas have enough to worry about already?

Donna Hayden, England
I support those groups of people who are trying to get fuel prices reduced, albeit mostly from my armchair I'm afraid to say. However, I do agree with the halt to the convoy passing through York. Don't the people in these flooded areas have enough to worry about already? What do they need cheap fuel for when most of their cars are ten feet underwater?? I think a little respect for them right now wouldn't go amiss.
Donna Hayden, England

If you want to save fuel drive more efficient cars at better speeds. If the speed limit were lowered to 55mph the amount of fuel saved would be huge.
Rob, England

Fuel tax is a tax on life - a tax on shopping, a tax on taking the kids to school and a tax on delivering goods. It's also an "unfair" tax as it takes no account of your ability to pay but taxes you on a need to travel.
Matt Cox, UK


It's a shame these supporters cannot consider the matter a bit further

Robert, UK
If the question "Do you want lower fuel taxes?" was put to a poll, we all know what the answer would be. Hence the public support for the protestors. It's a shame these supporters cannot consider the matter a bit further.
Robert, UK

The protesters are not acting on behalf of the general public, they are protesting against tax on diesel so that farmers and directors of haulier companies can fatten their wallets. They are using misguided public support as a tool to try and get away with non-democratic action. Surely the public should realise their duty in paying so called 'high' petrol tax. No-one argues that cigarettes and alcohol shouldn't be highly taxed so why should they wish to have low tax on something that causes thousands of deaths a year as well as irreversible pollution?
Andrew Scully, UK

I think somewhere along the line everyone seems to have missed the point somewhat. It is a fact that the price of oil has more than doubled, surely the question to ask is why it has doubled? From what I can see the main reason for the world oil price going up is because of American mismanagement of their winter supplies. Someone please explain to me why we have to pay for American incompetence and abuse?
Zafar, England


I will again be standing by the protestors

P. C. Ford, England
However inconvenient it was for me the last time petrol ran out, I will again be standing by the protestors. The Government claims it cannot afford to reduce petrol tax but then every other month seems to find the money to bail the Dome (I know it's a cliché) out of trouble. How is this possible?
P. C. Ford, England

The people who are complaining about the possibility of further fuel protests should not forget that the protestors are not city fat cats, they are hard-working men and women who find themselves with their backs against the wall and unable to make ends meet. I find it hard not to sympathise with their actions when faced with a Government that refuses to listen to common sense and day after day appears aloof to the genuine needs of British working people.
Thomas Dodd, UK

It concerns me greatly that these hauliers are prepared to put lives at risk, and create such chaos (and people support this). It is very irresponsible behaviour. Those of you who support a cut in petrol price are very short-term thinkers. You pollute the environment, therefore it is only fair that you pay the price in order that a solution to your pollution can be created.
Nicole, UK

Whilst I do not think that such direct action is the best way to change things, it seems the only way to get this arrogant government to take notice. I would love to be able to use public transport, but there is simply none that will get me to my place of work. I am paid by the government, and whilst the tax on my petrol has gone up by over 20% in the last three years, my pay has remained flat. They're crippling me and no amount of gloss or spin will convince me otherwise.
Matt Crocker, UK


Forget yourself, forget the car: wake up and walk

Neil Osborne, England
Fuel tax is an environmental tax and should be at even higher levels. The car is over-used and causes pollution, death and injury on the roads. I am sick of the media failing to challenge David Handley and Co on these points. We need to take a fresh look at the way we travel, where we live, where we work and what we really want for the future. We need public services and we have to pay tax to provide them. It is called collective responsibility and sadly it is something that the Thatcher years drummed out of many people. Forget yourself, forget the car: wake up and walk!
Neil Osborne, England

I presume all the people opposing the fuel protest, either don't drive (hence, are happy that the motorists pay their share of taxes) or they are filthy rich. If this revenue, that is generated from fuel tax, is spent on schools, hospitals etc. we should ALL contribute on an earnings-related basis. Solution - higher income tax - lower fuel tax. It really is that simple and any government who cannot see that, doesn't deserve to govern!
Neil W, England

I fully support the people's fuel lobby in their protest. The government has a moral duty to lower fuel tax in this country. People are suffering. Please support them, for all our sakes.
James McCartney, UK

Protestors who threaten the "people", using fear to gain sympathy and publicity, are no better than terrorists. I believe that the government has every right to shun such confrontational methods. When it comes down to it, if you can't afford to use a car, then don't use it... I can't so I don't!
Rebecca Bishop, UK

A significant number of people opposed the first fuel tax protests and a larger number will oppose any future protests, but it has been hard to get our views into the papers and other media. Apparently there are 70 self-appointed members of the fuel protestors group, pursuing selfish and short-sighted aims. This is a democracy and I participated in an election to put this government in power to govern and I support them in doing that.
Nicola, UK

I support the petrol protests, the high price of fuel is damaging, industry, rural communities, the elderly and the poor. How Mr Blair can call himself a Christian and threaten peaceful protesters, or even deny them the right to peaceful protest is beyond belief. Justice for the poor not only the rich Mr Blair
Reverend Andrew Renshaw, UK

All European governments are determined to reduce pollution by discouraging the use of cars through high taxation, however, there are two things they don't understand: people depend on cars because in most of Europe public transport is sub-standard, and people whose livelihood depends directly on fuel must be protected. Ignore these two issues and you are ignoring the people, we might as well be living in China. In the UK, the government is starting to create a class divide as these measures and other indirect taxation affects honest hardworking people the hardest as they cannot afford to be as flexible as white collar workers and higher classes, as a consequence Labour have become more of a right wing party than the Tories.
John Murga, UK

In 1979, a Conservative government was elected with the explicit policy of switching taxes from direct (income) tax to indirect - VAT, fuel tax, etc. The electorate continued to vote for this tax policy until 1997, when a Labour government was elected on essentially the same policy, so presumably that's what people want. If you want a different policy, vote Lib Dem and persuade others to do likewise.
Kevin Brown, Wales


I don't remember the government being so stingy every time the Dome needed a new handout

Chris Seeger,UK
I will be supporting the protesters again. The government through stealth taxes has strangled us all too much. Gordon Brown makes much of his friend "Prudence" but he is nearer to Marie Antoinette when he says "let them take public transport". It doesn't exist outside big cities and costs more, takes longer, is unreliable and filthy. Fuel tax has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with a grasping Labour Government. Let's set the record straight and see off those stingy new Labour luvvies sitting on £22bn of government surplus. I don't remember the government being so stingy every time the Dome needed a new handout!
Chris Seeger, UK

The duty on fuel should be reduced greatly. Any shortfall in tax revenues this would create could be cancelled out by an increase in income tax. As many people on low incomes are reliant on their cars, it is unfair that they are forced to undertake an unfair burden in the funding of public services (schools, hospitals, pensions etc.), for which the fuel duty, as the government has admitted, is used.
Matt, Wales

Who do I support? The Government - without question. Certainly not this dubious group representing their own selfish interests
Robert Denton, UK

I cannot understand how so many people can miss the point. Tax on fuel is not fair. The poorest people pay the same as the wealthiest. The government says it cannot reduce tax on fuel as pensioners and other groups will suffer. Well they are right if they do not intend to raise the money through direct taxation. I am wealthy and the unfairness of the system suits my circumstances, however I am just giving a thought for the not so fortunate, something I would have a thought a socialist government (who I didn't vote for) would place high on their agenda. Or is the only thing on their agenda these days ensuring their own re-election?
Paul, Kent, England

Send in the police - like Thatcher did against the miners and if need be send in the Para's and the SAS to clear the Tory blockades.
Julian Clarke, UK

Mr Brown claims that the high tax on fuel is there to discourage use of the car. Yet we are not offered a decent alternative. The railways are falling to pieces and are only practical if you want to go to or from London. During the last fuel blockade, some railway lines ran out of diesel fuel because the fuel is delivered to the railway depots by road! A tax on diesel fuel affects the delivery cost of everything- clothing, food, postal deliveries, plus the running costs of trains, buses, ambulances, - the protesters are trying to make this blinkered government understand that the country can't afford to carry on like this.
Larry Allwright, UK


Next election we'll be swapping one Tory party for another who won't listen

Alice,UK England
Out of touch and arrogant - this is a Labour government the Tories would be proud of. In a poll of how many people in this country think fuel taxes are too high I'm sure there would be a majority saying yes they are! From fuel to food, to cars, to software, we pay more in the UK than our counterparts in the rest of Europe. The fuel protests were expressing public opinion and the public should have joined them - that is democracy. Peaceful demonstration may not be "very British" but it is very European. Next election we'll be swapping one Tory party for another who won't listen. Democratically we have no choices anymore.
Alice, UK

Why has the USA got it right? I sure I read somewhere that their language came from England. Who's learning from whom now? They seem to have a good balance of pricing, lifestyle, food, clothes and fuel. Does anyone know how I can get a Green Card?
Ravi T, Herts, UK

I dislike the price of fuel, but I have already had one holiday ruined by the fuel protestors and they are going to attempt to ruin my next one. I have no support for them and shall look forward to watching them all get arrested. Let's get fuel prices down, but preferably without wrecking people's lives too much.
Jason, UK


Let us all have a say on the single issue of whether duty on fuel should be cut

Graeme, England
The way to democratise this situation is to have a referendum. The ACTIVE fuel protesters are a minority, the government has no idea what the country thinks, so let us all have a say on the single issue of whether duty on fuel should be cut and then both sides will have to abide by the decision of the people.
Graeme, England

Instead of excusing high fuel taxes by using the magic words "education" and "health" and threatening reduced funding to them, perhaps this country could stop throwing billions into the black hole of the Euro, propping it up artificially. Instead of giving constant artificial respiration to something useless and unwanted, the UK could spend that on our infrastructure. We could improve health, education and public transport AND lower taxes! We need to apply some democracy and pragmatism - commodities apparently in short supply in Westminster.
Ruth, England

I believe the government should be removed from office immediately: Charge - "Daylight Robbery"
JD,UK

I think it's about time that the people of Britain stood up for themselves. I've heard a lot of people complain about the protesters and what they actually represent. Well, even if the protesters are only talking for themselves. Fair shout to them I say. The Fuel crisis affects EVERYONE, not just the drivers. The only greedy people I see in this whole scenario are the Government and the oil companies. Do we really need to go back to the times of Robin Hood and his Merry Men?
Sharon Kasbia, Bristol, UK,

The point was made last time - I see no benefit in a repeat of the action - where will this lead?
Bob, UK

If you are a 'high' earner in the UK, you get taxed at 40% plus NI at 9% so that's nearly half your money gone. Fuel is taxed at 80% plus VAT at 17.5% (tax on tax on tax so far...) plus the tax on buying a new car and the road fund licence. Haven't you Limeys had enough? IR35 and the fuel tax are why I came to NZ - more will follow. Go on, elect Blair for another term. Justify my self-imposed exile. Boy it's hot here, Phew wot a scorcher!
Alex, NZ


It is a fast and slippery slope to anarchy

Steve, UK
Hey all you protesters I'm off to picket my local off-licence and tobacconists to protest about the duty/prices. Oh, and while I'm about it I'll blockade my local railway station to protest at the fares. Lets all stop and think about the consequences of these so-called "champions of the people". It is a fast and slippery slope to anarchy. We have the ballot box to sort all this nonsense. Although, God help us if we have another Tory government - still if Mr Hague did get in perhaps beer might be cheaper. No sorry I'll have to stop there, I think a "dream tax" has just been invoked
Steve, UK

I'm not asking truckers and farmers to subsidise my job so why should I subsidise theirs?
Michael Fleming, England


People have to accept that taxation is an essential evil

David Spibey, England
People have to accept that taxation is an essential evil. Fuel is a luxury and therefore should be taxed as such. If the duty on fuel was cut, the money would have to come from somewhere else and we don't want to return to the "no public service" days of the Tories!
David Spibey, England

Why do we hear nothing about taxing aviation fuel which is tax free, burnt in huge quantities at high altitude where the combustion products cause the maximum damage to the ozone layer. Let's have equitable taxes and a realistic, science-based approach to the problems of global pollution and the warming affect of greenhouse gasses.
John Brownlee, England

To be honest I'm already a bit fed up with the protests. While in principle I support the move, it is really annoying to see that petrol stations in my area are already out of unleaded. This is no good to me when I'm running on reserve and have to drive round looking for fuel.
Adrian Brett, UK

Who really comes out of this debacle with any credit? The protesters, with their self-centred actions and egotistical presumptions that they represent "the people"? The oil companies, whose tacit complicity in the protests was due to a desire to see taxes fall, thereby giving them an opportunity to slip in another price, and profits, rise? Or perhaps the Government, who, despite their oft-stated desire to improve the health service and education system, were too concerned with next week's opinion polls to do what was necessary to ensure that those services carried on functioning as normal. We must never again allow the country to be held to ransom by a bunch of unelected, self-serving individuals.
Andrew, UK

I have read that we need high tax on petrol because overuse of cars has caused global warming, and hence the recent floods in Britain. In fact these floods are the worst since 1625. Just one question. What caused the global warming in 1625 that made us have even worse floods then than we do now?
Anthony, Switzerland


I don't understand why people support individuals who are only protesting for their own interests

Rob, England
I don't understand why people support individuals who are only protesting for their own interests. Farmers and small businesses who cannot (and will never) make enough money to satisfy their greed. I don't remember seeing any farmers on the picket lines during the miners strike and the only truck drivers were the ones who crossed the picket lines. I urge the general public to wake up!
Rob, England

The Government keeps saying that they cannot bring fuel tax down because the revenue is needed to fund schools, hospitals etc. Why is no-one suggesting that this revenue should be coming from EVERYONE, not just people who drive? We all use these services, so why should only drivers pay for them? An extra penny on income tax is by far the fairest way of doing this. Why can't the Government see this?
Lauren, UK


High fuel prices change nothing

Neil, England
High fuel prices change nothing, all the fuel will get burnt in the end. It is purely a way of raising ever-increasing amounts of tax.
Neil, England

I find myself agreeing with the direct action taken against a government which seems totally removed from day-to-day life in this country but disagreeing with the basic argument of the fuel protesters i.e. the protest is motivated by the self-interest and greed of certain parties in this country and should be exposed as such.
Earnest Jones, UK

I believe that no cause should be placed above democracy. What is to stop far right groups or other extremist organisations from taking similar action to force their opinion through to policy? It is also somewhat ironic that petrol prices should be negotiated in the wake of devastating floods precipitated by the fuel's very pollution.
Charlotte Nolan, UK


This protest is about FAIRNESS

Andy Bowen, Bucks, UK
Why does everyone keep missing the point? This protest is about FAIRNESS. Both the protesters and the general public want exactly what the government want, one Europe, how can they justify the same laws, the same currency but not the same prices? We simply want harmony with our European neighbours but it seems that the government feels the need to be selective about what relics of Europe we take on board. Goodbye Mr. Blair.
Andy Bowen, Bucks, UK

The government should be doing more to encourage alternative fuels. If I want to change my car to LPG I have to pay more than £1500 because the government grant only covers cars under a year old. However older cars aren't as clean. As I can't afford a new non-petrol car and there is a lack of reliable public transport I have to continue driving. Therefore I am forced to side with the fuel protestors.
Neil Addison, England


Has no one else noticed Shell's 3rd quarter earnings?

Chris McCormack, UK
Has no one else noticed Shell's 3rd quarter earnings? Up 80% to £2.25bn? And the protesters are complaining about tax? Perhaps tax does account for much of the price of petrol, but at least it goes to a relatively good cause. In my opinion, if the protesters were to blockade Shell garages, perhaps they would stop abusing prices.
I'd imagine this would also scare other oil companies into limiting their prices. The government cannot, will not and should not react to these terrorist-type activities, commercial companies on the other hand can be intimidated into compliance - a targeted protest like this would knock billions off their market value - that thought would scare them.
Chris McCormack, UK

For the government and the media to try to offset public opinion by drawing attention to the profit of Shell is obscene. That Shell might have made such a large profit after all their costs pales into insignificance compared to the Treasury's benefit.
If Shell has approximately 15% of the price of fuel at the pump then the Government receives four times that revenue in duty. They only have to pay the cost of levying this point of sale tax. They therefore receive at least four times the 2.2 billion and this is a conservative estimate. I support the protestors in an effort to offset this imbalance. An ostensibly listening and cynical government does not truly reflect the nature of the electorate that they purport to represent.
William Derry, UK

I don't remember voting for a bunch of lorry drivers who want to protect their own interests, so they can carry on both exporting AND importing the same goods, blocking up the roads and polluting the air.
Graham, UK


This argument will not go away by reducing the cost of petrol this year

Sally Bennett, Chepstow, UK
I was glad to read the comments on this page, as it shows many people are in fact against this protest. This is contrary to the impression given by some parts of the media. I am also dismayed that the hauliers claim to speak for me, they don't - this is purely to justify their own behaviour which is largely based on greed.
Taxation on fuel is a complex issue, and we cannot afford for the debate to be hijacked by those with their own agenda. As a society we have to decide how we balance our individual freedom as car-owners against the long-term cost to our community and the environment. This argument will not go away by reducing the cost of petrol this year.
Sally Bennett, Chepstow, Gwent

In August, a few hundred fuel tax protestors - apparently supported by an overwhelming majority of the populace - brought the nation's roads to a standstill and were attacked by the government for their irresponsible and undemocratic action.
This week, much of the nation's rail network was paralysed - a direct consequence of serial under-investment in the rail infrastructure, yet the man responsible for this equally devastating gridlock is still in a job - with the government's blessing.
When the Treasury is pocketing around £3 of the price of every gallon of petrol in fuel duty, but as recent events so clearly demonstrate, this is so obviously NOT being spent on improving the alternatives to the motor car, is it really so surprising that the long-suffering British commuter feels ripped off, helpless and sympathetic to direct action.
If I had access to safe, clean public transport, I'd be happy to sell my car and use it. But while these alternatives aren't even being financed by exorbitant fuel taxes - it's totally unjust to subject us to the current levels of duty.
Mark Sutcliffe, UK


Yes I'd like lower petrol taxes, I'd also like a 20% pay rise, world peace and a diet that works!

Phil Tidy, Lancaster, UK
I heard one of the self-appointed "People's Fuel Champions" claiming on Radio 4 that petrol tax was too high because the Government was bailing out "mis-management in schools and the NHS". As if farmers were models of financial independence! Usually people protest on behalf of others who can't speak up for themselves e.g. Amnesty International or Greenpeace. Looking at these overfed bullies claiming they are going to emulate the Jarrow March, just so they can make a bigger profit for themselves is sickening.
Yes I'd like lower petrol taxes, I'd also like a 20% pay rise, world peace and a diet that works! Get real, these people represent only themselves and will continue to do so until they have the guts to actually stand in an election.
Phil Tidy, Lancaster, Lancashire, UK

I shall certainly be supporting the protesters again. In fact, of the many people I spoke to last time, only one spoke out against them - and they didn't drive! This government will not listen to reason, they don't seem to "feel the vibes" coming from the country and therefore seem totally out of touch.
The public transport system is abysmal as well as being very expensive (can't all these people who are complaining about the protesters realise that if fuel prices came down then so should fares on public transport!) As for those who say "they have never seen a poor farmer" I would like to ask them how many farmers they actually know, and I am sure they would not like to work the hours or in the conditions that farmers do. Where would our country be without them? Unfortunately, the way we are going, I don't think I am going to have to wait long for an answer to that question!
Jane, England

The protesters are attacking the wrong people. What about the oil companies who are putting up pump prices because of crude price increases that have given them a huge bonanza.
There have been no production cost increases that they could legitimately pass on, just a huge increase in demand which actually should reduce their cost per barrel as fixed overheads become a smaller part of their costs.
AK, UK


Congratulations Jack Straw for increasing public anxiety to such a level that even without a cause, a crisis develops again

Tim, UK
With still ten days to go we are seeing people panic buying yet again, and this time there is only one place to put the blame. This is entirely the governments fault. Had Jack Straw not "advised" health authorities to stockpile fuel, the general public would not now be panicking. Congratulations Jack Straw for increasing public anxiety to such a level that even without a cause, a crisis develops again.
Tim, UK

Where do these idiots think this money will come from if not from fuel taxes? Income tax, VAT or some other taxation method. The government will extract the money it thinks it needs from us one way or the other. A victory for the fuel tax campaigners would be very hollow indeed and would result in higher taxation elsewhere or lower levels of services, is that really what they want?
Mark Wood, UK

Farmers and lorry drivers should get back to what they are paid to do. These two groups are already responsible for a major proportion of pollution in Britain including pesticides, herbicides, noise pollution, and global warming. Now they are grumbling about a few pence of fuel. What unbelievable cheek. Do these people ever stop complaining. If they got off there backsides and did a little work for a change then they might earn a bit more money.
Alex Bartle, England


I would still use my car even if it cost me four times as much

Jerry, UK
I would still use my car even if it cost me four times as much. With the current government, that may not be too far off.
Jerry, UK

I am a mother of four young children, and my biggest fear is the shortage of food. I do have a car, and walk whenever possible, but with the current weather conditions this has just not been possible. If I am unable to get to my local supermarket, it is my children that suffer, and I'm afraid that will not be tolerated.
How do you explain to an 18-month-old that we haven't got any nappies, or to a three- year-old that he can't have toast for breakfast because we haven't any bread. With a family of six to feed, there is only so much food that you can store before running out. Last time we just about managed, but next time?
Sue Sambrook, England


To be honest, the price of fuel is unbelievable

Danny Dixon, London
To be honest, the price of fuel is unbelievable. The only people who really suffer are those living on the 'breadline' and those who require fuel for the operation of their business. Do you think the middle class or upper class suffer? Do you think they even notice the difference? I hear the Government going on about the use of public transport which, if you live in London, is not a great deal cheaper than running a car. If you live outside of London, it's pretty much non-existent!
Danny Dixon, London

As a recent arrival from the UK to the USA it's great to have low petrol prices. The UK Government has high petrol costs not for the environment but to pay for welfare Let them at least be honest about it and stop pretending to be green. Incidentally, there is no proof that car use contributes to global warming nor that the current warming is anything other than a normal cycle. The time we have been keeping records is so short in geological terms as to be meaningless.
Peter Smith, Cary, North Carolina

Let's face it, global warming is real. The problem is that I personally DO NOT trust any government that raises so much money from oil to pump any serious amount into public transport and alternative fuels. Until I see some proof (and God knows they've been talking about it for decades!) then I'm completely behind the fuel protesters. (And polls have shown that they speak for the majority of the country - which is more than the democratically elected Government does).
Scotty, UK


It's just naked selfishness

Sarah Williams, UK
I am a car owner, though I use public transport every day for work. The price of my bus tickets have increased far more than the petrol I put in my car - yet selfish drivers complain only about petrol. What's more they say they are the "poorest" ones being hardest hit by these increases, when I'd say that the poorest people are on the bus paying through the nose with me, as they can't afford cars. Why don't the fuel protestors stick up for them? It's just naked selfishness.
Sarah Williams, UK

We have already seen this week the effects of global warming, in no small part caused by excessive use of cars and lorries. The fuel escalator was a good idea and I, for one, do not in any way support the protestors.
Andrew James, Lincoln

I will be supporting the government as I have done throughout the campaign organised by a few disgruntled farmers. Its not so much about taxation but more to do with their grievances against government, EU, their traditional party the Conservatives and the NFU.
Their plight is caused by their own poor business mismanagement. After all these people could not hack it even with the subsidies from government (and EU!)
Robert Denton, England


Labour governments have always been heavy tax raisers. The fuel tax is just an example of this

JC, UK
The government is being disingenuous when it claims that fuel taxes "help the environment". The difference that a bit of British tax makes on the environment is irrelevant in comparison with the amount of fossil fuel burnt in the United States (80% of total world consumption) and the inefficient filth emitting vehicles to be found in the former communist countries and parts of Asia. Labour governments have always been heavy tax raisers. The fuel tax is just an example of this. The pity is we are not seeing a world class education system or health service. We are only seeing a world class fuel tax.
JC, UK

Although it does not make any sense for us to be profligate with fossil fuels, it hardly seems to be in our interests to squeeze out a very small percentage of UK pollution at huge financial cost to the consumer when the US is showing no control at all. If the exercise was all about producing revenue to fund public transport then there might be some justification but there is no evidence of that.
Geoff Cole, UK

The current price of fuel does not reflect is true economic value. It does, however, reveal the publics love of independent transportation or more obviously a lack of good reliable public transport? You only have to look as far as the current rail transport situation to appreciate why fuel prices must be reduced. I must, however, point out that if it was not for an overindulgence of carbon based fuels the weather that is causing the transport system just as much problems as the fuel shortages is largely due to the "Green house effect".
Iain, UK


I certainly do not support the actions of these imbeciles who think that they can get the Government to change their mind by making demands backed up with threats

Patrick Seurre, UK
As someone who relies on being able to get vital medication delivered to me, I certainly do not support the actions of these imbeciles who think that they can get the Government to change their mind by making demands backed up with threats. The Government cannot (and hopefully will not) allow it's actions to be dictated by threats, and each time the protesters ask for something and say they will blockade oil refineries if they don't get it, it makes it all the more unlikely it will actually be granted.
Patrick Seurre, UK

I live in London, where it is pointless to drive. The fuel price is ridiculously high and so is the majority which goes to the government. I will therefore support the demonstrators. In some ways though this plays into their hands, by getting cars off the road increasing public transport revenue. Fobbing the British public off with arguments about emergency service disruption which is fictitious and the finance instead being used on education is pure rubbish.
Matt McDonald, England

With the tragic events unfolding in the Middle East right now, no number of "fine upstanding citizens" will be able to influence how much we pay for petrol. Probably petrol could be cheaper, but the arrogance of the self-appointed "People's" fuel lobby is breathtaking in its sheer naivety. I can also think of bigger and more important things to get worked up about than the price of petrol.
Paul, UK

To all the fuel protesters who think they represent the British public? Who did you vote for in the last election? If you voted Labour then it smacks of "I thought they were going to do something for me and me alone". If you voted Tory, then you voted for the party who put you in this mess in the first place with the fuel escalator. Don't preach to us by blackmailing us with the threat of blockades. If you believe in democratic process and getting the people on your side do it at the ballot box and not by intimidation and blackmail. Doing that has no place in a democratic society.
Ian, UK

Fuel tax is one of the fairer taxes that is currently levelled. It is the one we individually have most control over and one which - potentially - could have a beneficial effect on our environment. It is our choice which size of car engine we have, how often we share our cars, how far we drive or choose to live from our place of work. There are very few other taxes that offer such flexibility in the way we contribute towards them. Such freedom of choice is in stark contrast to the protestors who inflict their opinions on the rest of the country.
Tim Hooper, Cambridge, UK


If they want to live in a country where you can hold it to ransom for whatever cause they deem fit they should go and live in France

Steve, Newport, UK
Who do these "protestors" think they are? If they want to live in a country where you can hold it to ransom for whatever cause they deem fit they should go and live in France and leave us to get on with living in Great Britain.
If they disrupt my daily life again as a result of protesting on my behalf I will find it extremely difficult to find any compassion for their issues. Also, what do the farmers think they are doing getting involved when they get red diesel at subsidised rates and I for one have never seen a poor farmer. The people who should be complaining are the general public and the way to do this is by using your vote, after all don't we live in a democratic society? No surrender to these highway terrorists.
Steve, Newport, UK

Why is it that the government, and Mr Straw, would sit around a table and figure out how to stop protestors rather than find a solution to the tax cost of fuel (thereby stopping protests and keeping the public who vote for them happy!).
Now their dividing us all over who is for and against the protestors. They ARE NOT the problem, I certainly will NOT be voting for a government that a) really don't care, and b) think were stupid enough to turn on the people who are standing up for us all.
Martin, UK

I am prepared to pay more than the current level of fuel taxes in the knowledge that the Government is attempting to improve public transport so that many of us can transfer from the roads to more environmentally friendly forms of transport.
Tax may be a bit of a blunt instrument - but at least it makes every mile driven less attractive - and generates revenue which I believe should be used to improve public transport. In these times of global warming we have to find an alternative to the car, and requesting petrol reductions is like asking for a discount whilst the Titanic is sinking.
Chris Hill, UK

With the dire situation we're in at the moment with global warming, it would be madness even to consider making concessions to this selfish minority. Tax on petrol should be increased year by year to discourage reliance on such an environmentally devastating form of energy.
Joe Charnock, USA


The protesters are not fighting for a system to make more money, they are fighting for a level playing field

Michael Smith, Midlands, UK
I work in the Midlands and I am sick of paying extra for the privilege of going to work. Sick of paying extra for things and seeing the government pocketing the difference. The protesters are not fighting for a system to make more money, they are fighting for a level playing field and the chance to break even and survive.
Michael Smith, Midlands, UK

It's ironic that in a week when the country is feeling the effects of global warming to devastating effect, people are protesting the tax on fuel. I'm surprised that no-one is protesting the price and poor service of public transport. Why not have heavy taxes on fuel and use the money to invest in renewable forms of energy?
Simon, London, England

I'm a doctor, I work for the NHS, though fuel prices are higher than Europe, we do have to generate taxes to pay for our FREE healthcare system. During the last crisis I thought blockaders were highly irresponsible many operations in my hospital were cancelled purely because patients couldn't get in. Are the hauliers and Farmers going to help with the backlog of operations that this has called? I think not! For heavens sake! Please think about blockading! Not all the country support you!!!
Darren Lloyds, Cardiff


Tony Blair is not going to take notice if we hand in a petition or ask him nicely

Alex, UK
I believe that if we want anything to be done about the cost of fuel then this is the only possible chance we have left. Tony Blair is not going to take notice if we hand in a petition or ask him nicely. I am backing them all the way.
Alex, UK

Global warming is beginning to manifest itself through an increased incidence of extreme weather throughout the world (a very current topic in the UK). If higher taxes on environmentally dodgy fuels encourage the development of more sustainable fuels, this is no bad thing.
Our children will have more to thank us for if we maintain the tax and encourage the development of less polluting modes of transport than they would if we cut 26p a litre off the cost of petrol. And by the way, yes I do drive a car.
Trevor Hackett, UK

Global warming is a myth - until I see concrete evidence I regard it as nothing more than a weak excuse for governments to restrict our fundamental right to movement. What alternative do we have but to use our cars - if this pathetic excuse for a government would provide useable public transport perhaps people would be less dependent on petrol. Until then they can hardly complain when people find their fundamental rights to movement priced out of existence.
Karl Peters, UK


These French-style protests are not called for

Robert Keyes, USA
While fuel prices certainly are effecting some trades more than others, these French-style protests are not called for. I think some minor disruption, enough to be heard, is acceptable. Possibly an hour a day petrol blockades at most. The country still needs to run.
The price of Petrol in the UK is high, especially considering that the UK is a petroleum producer. While this causes some pain for Britons, in the end it does some good. Just try getting funding for a wind farm in Texas, or sell photovoltaic panels in Venezuela. In these places, economics has discouraged alternative fuel development. The UK is doing somewhat better in this regard. The key to alternative fuel development in a capitalist-socialist state such as the UK is, painfully, higher petrol and electric costs.
Robert Keyes, USA

Fuel tax should be reduced because the people most affected by it are those who depend on their cars - like the disabled, the elderly, people living in isolated rural areas, and the self-employed. It's all very well for urban politicians to preach from their ivory towers - they are out of touch. It seems to me most people supporting Tony Blair either live in London or have their petrol paid for by their employer/own company.
Zoe, UK

Firstly, Anthony from Hertfordshire...It is clear that you do not feel that we pay too much for running our cars, lorries and businesses. Do not presume that this makes YOU the voice of the people. The fact is that the majority of people depend on their vehicles to make a living. Until we are given a cheaper or environment-friendly solution, this is what we are stuck with. The protesters have only done what the majority of us were thinking and feeling.
Despite the chaos caused, the majority of people were behind them 100% (as shown in all the polls around the time of the protests). If the government refuse to listen, they should expect the people to shout about it. We voted the government in to protect our interests and manage OUR country for us...let's not forget that. For those of you who do not drive or are not affected by the fuel prices...stay the hell out of the argument because you clearly do not know what you are talking about.
Vincent Laguardia, UK


Nationalise the oil companies

Alli Wasti, Waasti, Washington DC, USA
It seems to me simple enough. Nationalise the oil companies. Firstly that would prevent the handful of 'industrial thugs' that run the oil companies from holding the country to ransom (as they seem to be threatening again). Secondly, the profits could be ploughed back into a heavily subsidised public transport system to discourage the use of cars (unless you really like the effects of global warming that are just starting to make themselves felt) and thirdly, some of it could be used to reduce the (regressive) sales tax on petrol so that those who have no choice aren't taxed unfairly.
Alli Wasti, Washington DC, USA

Whilst I have every sympathy for those who suffered from the petrol shortage, this Government and future ones need to be shown that they are here to look after our interests. Tony Blair must think that we came down with the rain when he says that hospitals, the elderly etc, will suffer if petrol tax is cut. The answer is to increase direct taxation and ring-fence it for all the areas that he says will suffer. That way, those that can afford it will pay and those who cannot will not.
John Swift, Liverpool, England

Britain should start letting British farmers grow rape-seed for Biodiesel. Why send your money to foreign oil producers?
Bob White, USA

Who are the fuel protestors who presume to represent 'the people'? They certainly do not represent me. I do not like the thought of this group holding the country to ransom and they do not have my support.
Anthony, Hertfordshire

People around here are complaining because petrol is almost one pound a gallon, that's right, almost a pound a gallon. Mind you, this is Texas!
Julian Hancock, Killeen, Texas, USA


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See also:

02 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Straw's blockade battle plan
02 Nov 00 | Business
Shell posts record profits
01 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Fuel protesters 'like cornered rats'
02 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Warning on fuel protest dangers
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