Panic petrol buying served the taxman well

By Cliff Bennett

Published on Thursday, April 05, 2012 - 11:03


LETTERS From Cliff Bennett, Cranmore:
I DIDN’T think David Cameron had it in him but he and his government have conned the British public with one of the most outrageous scams in recent history. It was, in fact, the perfect sting.
It was a two-pronged strategy. We were first softened up by what would have been carefully scripted statements from ministers, each one ambiguous, contradictory and confusing.
The big guns were fired by the media and what should have been worthy of two lines at the bottom of page six of the average newspaper, became national headline news on the hour, every hour for over a week.
The media used all the weapons at its disposal, fantasy, exaggeration, fabrication and pure fiction, to whip the British motoring public into a state of mass hysteria. Some of the claims, being in the trade so to speak, I can categorically refute.
Quote — “There was an overwhelming vote for a strike”. The vote was, in fact 60-40 in favour of ‘industrial action’, at no time did any spokesperson from Unite mention the word ‘strike’. There was also no mention of the fact it was such a contentious issue only 50 per cent of the membership bothered to vote.
Quote — “The 2,000 drivers involved deliver all the fuel to 95 per cent of all filling stations and supermarkets”. There are around 10,000 gas and petrol tanker drivers in the UK and fewer than 50 per cent of these are in any union or aligned to one, so if there was a strike these drivers would be working normally and that includes me.
The final salvo which drove the British public over the top was when those immortal words were spoken on prime time television news — “The government urges the public not to panic buy” — spoken over a backdrop of scenes of chaos at filling stations.
So, did the public stand firm, shoulder to shoulder? No! They fled in their thousands to fill up and virtually bled the country dry.
The result was that in 48 hours sales of unleaded petrol went up 195 per cent, diesel went up 165 per cent and super unleaded by a massive 350 per cent because in many places that was the only fuel left available.
Tens of millions of extra pounds went in to the economy right at the end of the financial year and even more went into the taxman’s coffers. This will probably mean that final financial figures for the year will still show a small economic growth. Without this boost, financial experts were predicting a double-dip recession.
It was a masterplan indeed. Well you’ve had your fun Mr C., now find a way of stopping it, or there really will be a fuel crisis!

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