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Wednesday, September 14, 2005 

Pathetic fuel protestors fail to turn up.

After all their bluster and rhetoric, the greedy and selfish minority today failed to even bother to turn up and make their threats reality:

Fuel protests which sparked fears supplies could be blockaded fell flat when only a few protesters turned out today and no blockades were reported.

Early this morning, only around 12 people arrived for a demonstration outside an oil refinery in Jarrow, south Tyneside, with a similar number at an oil terminal in Purfleet, Essex, where one man was arrested for causing an obstruction.

Demonstrations failed to materialise at other refineries around the country, and journalists outnumbered protesters at at least two refineries visited by the Guardian this morning.

Farmer and haulier Andrew Spence, who was involved in the 2000 protests, said ministers had been forced to make concessions by the latest campaign.

He said that without it "I doubt that the government would have given us the 1.2p freeze in duty proposed for October. I like to think that we have achieved something this week."

Mr Spence, who was among a small group of protesters at the Shell refinery in Jarrow, south Tyneside, said: "We didn't want a lot of people here, I would rather there was just a handful of us."

Another protester, farmer Martin Stevenson, said that despite the low turnout, support for the cause was "very large" as "everybody is dissatisfied with the amount of money they're paying in tax on fuel".

At Purfleet in Essex protesters held placards saying "Support British Hauliers" and "End Labour's War on the Motorist". A man from Sheerness in Kent was arrested for obstructing the highway.

Mr Spence doesn't know what he's talking about. Fuel duty has been held at the same level for the last two years because of the high oil price - there was little to no chance that Gordon Brown was going to raise it, especially after Hurricane Katrina. I'd like to think that the majority that were going to protest have realised that the high price of fuel is nothing to do with the government, and all to do with the volatile situation in the Middle East, the hurricane and the greed of the oil companies themselves. Instead, the extremists are those who have showed up. The farmers who already are heavily subsidised and those who hate Labour with a passion.

The real culprit for the panic buying seen on Monday and Tuesday and according to some reports continuing today is the mass media. I assume the reports on possible shortages were in the scaremongering Sunday rags; I only saw the Sunday Mirror and didn't see any mention of it in there. Instead of reporting the situation which the petrol retailers and the government has said all along, that there was no shortage and no chance of one, they went along with their line of a juicy story to cause fear. It also wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't something to do with the number of adverts being placed in the media by the oil and petrol companies, constantly trying to convince us that they take human rights, the environment and climate change seriously. Is this their revenge for spending on the adverts, helped along by the media who gets a large amount of their advertising revenue from such companies? I honestly can't say I know.

The main thing is that the protests have failed, barring any militant action tomorrow or on Friday, when there is supposed to be a go slow blockade on the M4. The public may be unhappy about the price of fuel, but turning up at depots and blaming the government isn't going to solve anything.

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