Tuesday, September 14, 2010
2000 Fuel Crisis, Public Protests and the Cuts
Strange to think that ten years ago to the day, the country was nervously recovering from the Fuel Crisis, the first real test of the Blair government regarding law and order. Will the cuts provoke a similar reaction?
It was essentially two consumer groups- Lorry drivers and Farmers- behind those protests against 80% fuel taxes; reactions to the cuts are likely to be far more widely based. Some might say that militancy has been low since those awkward petrol starved few days a decade ago, and this is true. We have had a few indistrial disputes- postmen, firemen, BA Cabin Crew and the like but nothing like the mass actions of the 1980s.
This might have been partly because the Fuel crisis caused such a shock- the good times were rolling and such militancy seemed wholly inappropriate, an echo of a bygone age. Certainly there were big demonstrations from time to time, most notably the million strong one 15th February 2003 over Iraq, but Blair chose to ignore it totally. His policy survived but he lost his reputation anhd politcal power base thereby: quite a price to pay.
I think the cuts will provoke widespread protest, in all our big cities. They might get violent too and no doubt government is already making contingency plans about how to handle likely situations. If the economy avoids another recession they might get off lightly, but if we do slide into recession the government will be blamed. Labour and elements of the Lib Dems will support union action and the government might well fall. The British tradition of peaceful protest- which occasionally overspills into violence as in the Poll tax riots 1990- is still alive and well. The fact that these proposed cuts could have been phased in much more gradually could easily fuel a sense that this government has chosen un unnnecessary and brutal path. I think it will make trhe Fuel Crisis seem like the Teddy Bears Picnic.
If the Tories are defeated then what, would Labour do! cut the cost of fuel I very much doubt it, would the Bankers get the massive bonus stopped i doubt it, would the welfare reforms be changed I know they would not.
So what the hell would the fight be for, to get a bunch of new Labour put back into power, no thanks.
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