Charles Moore is suggesting that this fuel pantomime may be a deliberate strategy:

But now that I have heard the Conservatives’ private explanation, which is being handed down to constituency associations by MPs, I begin to feel angry.

The private message is as follows. “This is our Thatcher moment. In order to defeat the coming miners’ strike, she stockpiled coal. When the strike came, she weathered it, and the Labour Party, tarred by the strike, was humiliated. In order to defeat the coming fuel drivers’ strike, we want supplies of petrol stockpiled. Then, if the strike comes, we will weather it, and Labour, in hock to the Unite union, will be blamed.”

Perhaps I have missed a memo, but I think not (and I did check). Putting the public to all this inconvenience would obviously not be a wise strategy. And who would want widespread stockpiling of petrol at home?  Who would think that enough could be stockpiled safely to be useful? Given the choice between conspiracy or cock up, error always seems more likely.

Whatever the reason why remarks were made by Government ministers which sent people to the pumps, I feel sure that society should not be so vulnerable to the words of a few people in Westminster. After the drama of the past few days, a better question than why ministers created this pantomime would be why we put up with them having the power to do so, whether by error or deliberate act. Society should not be so vulnerable to its rulers.


  1. If the government wants to do something useful in future, then helping petrol/diesel retailers to keep their storage tanks full is the way forward. Currently they keep the storage tanks near empty due to the high cost of fuel and the fact that they have to pay the oil companies within 3 days. This creates a cash flow problem. Having a month to pay the oil company would allow ample time to generate enough cash from fuel sales in order to pay for more deliveries to keep the storage tanks full.

  2. Whilst there may not actually have been a memo outlining the “line” to take, Maude’s words had clear resonance with the stockpiling of coal employed to neuter the Miners’ strike.