It seems hard to imagine now but only a few years ago there was public disgust when fuel prices encroached over the one pound per litre mark. A few years on and we are still seeing prices rise steadily to £1.40 a litre for petrol and £1.50 a litre for a diesel. Our reaction to this is always the same – to protest. But is protesting really the way forward? Previous protests over the price of fuel in 2007 and 2010 have been less than successful and have not had the hard-hitting impact they sought. And it feels as though last summer’s riots and some of the Occupy protests have tainted the reputation of even the most peaceful of protests.
But the question “to protest or not to protest?” is not my only concern.
An interesting point comes out of this story. David Cameron, when in opposition, supported the protests of 2007. He not only gave his support but furthermore promised a “fair fuel stabiliser” – a proposal to limit the price of petrol that was part of the Conservative manifesto for the 2010 UK general election  and was announced to be implemented following the budget of March, 2011. Cameron has been in power for almost a year and this plan is yet to surface.
Of course Cameron can blame other factors for the rise in fuel costs – demand is rising in the developing world, some oil refineries are closing, market spectators are getting it wrong – but the simple fact is that the government is the main driver of what we are spending on fuel in the UK. The government could implement the fair fuel stabiliser – Cameron is just choosing not to.
Laura Owen 28.03.2012
Picture source: Experian Catalist