Fuel crisis: But they said 'don't panic'

Out-of-use petrol pumps More people have topped up their tanks - but did the government spread panic?

So who says the government isn't getting its message across?

In the past few days they've succeeded in getting people to buy almost twice as much petrol as they were last week.

That was their aim - as I wrote in yesterday's post - so that the impact of strikes could be minimised.

There is, of course, just one one small fly in the ointment. There are now queues, petrol station closures and angry motorists despite the fact that there are no, well, strikes.

Their "don't panic" message produced what you and I might call panic.

But is it time for the Tory Party to panic? There are certainly good reasons for them to be very concerned.

  • There are a lot of things which excite huge interest among politicians and journalists in Westminster but which raise barely a flicker of interest amongst most voters. Petrol and pasties are two exceptions to that. Presiding over a panic about one and a price rise of the other is very bad politics
  • The petrol and pasty crisis is being fuelled - or should that be heated up - by The Sun - Britain's biggest newspaper, which now has a proprietor who's got it in for David Cameron
  • A week of tax cuts for the rich, £250,000 donor dinners, tax rises for those whose idea of a good lunch is a hot pasty, pie or sausage roll, and talk of jerrycans and garages has undermined the Conservatives "we're all in it together" rhetoric
  • These self-inflicted mistakes have shown not just a lack of political nous behind the scenes but a lack of decent frontmen who look and sound like they live in the world occupied by most voters
  • Ed Miliband has been given the chance to look statesmanlike and - even when at a pasty-chomping photo opportunity - he's taken it

All this, of course, is what happens to governments. It's why we used to speak of governments having mid-term blues. These moments pass.

What should, perhaps, worry them more is the signs - far from definitive - that the economy is flatlining.

With or without a tanker drivers strike, petrol could turn into one of the key stories of the year. Fears of an Israeli conflict with Iran could drive up oil prices, prices at the pump and end hopes of an economic recovery.

Now that really would be something to panic about.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    Without context
    "the argument"
    Difficult to weigh

    Don't doubt experience across SME, UK & worldwide, of much frustration & disappointment, to put it mildly

    Wish 'we' could work in detail on HOW best to support ideas and passions, with finance and kindred spirits

    So much is being and will be lost, to individuals even species, unless we transform

    Sorry 'the answer' so 'simple'

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    Fair enough AfA; presenting personal credentials on an anonymous forum is rather pointless, and since done, you have the right to draw your own conclusions.

    However, the important issue is the argument. And, I would 'argue', that irrespective of who I might be, whoever forms the next UK Govt, will be compelled to adopt (at least in part) the approach that I have outlined.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    Sorry, the woman ending up in hospital has nothing to do with a specific politician - it is either a failure of basic common sense or indicitive of the state of our education system over the last 30 years or so.....

    Compared to the total cock up the last government made and left our economy in, this is nothing. It is like comparing multiple injuries to a scratch.

    Lets get some perspective.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    I thought such incompetence was a Labour Party trademark. But no, this lot are just as pathetic when it comes to understanding ordinary people. I don't even know what they really believe in, if anything. Although I can't stand George Galloway I can see perfectly well why he won. Like Maggie Thatcher, he sticks by his principles even if it upsets some people. That's what earns respect. And votes

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    All I can add to this comment line, is the fact that a woman has ended up in hospital, with 40% burns because of a Conservative politician (We all know who! and with no doubt backing from his boss) has tried to create a negative public opinion about the Union involved in this dispute. Propaganda at it's worst, reminds me of the history from 1930's Europe!!!


Comments 5 of 218



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