The government have come under fire today over panic buying of petrol ahead of a potential strike by tanker drivers as warnings of a fuel shortage become a self-fulfilliing prophecy.
Prime minister David Cameron and Conservative MP Francis Maude have both been blamed for sparking panic buying after they suggested that if a strike did go ahead then it might be a good idea for motorists to ensure their tanks were full and store the odd jerrycan of fuel. Unfortunately, despite their remarks being, well, fairly measured, the British public has reacted as though the prime minster stood atop Nelson’s Column with an enormous placard and told the country that the end of the world is nigh. Hysteria commenced and so did the queues at the petrol stations.
Self-preservation ‘in short supply’
The potential strike by tanker drivers belonging to Unite, the threat of which is at the root of all this idiocy, is now not even going to go ahead and wasn’t due to start until after Easter even if it did, though that hasn’t stopped people who were presumably hiding behind the door when common sense was given out from spending hours queuing merely to put a fiver’s worth of unleaded in their car.
Self-preservation seems to be in short supply too as a woman in York was hospitalised with 40% burns after (wait for it) decanting petrol into a jug in her kitchen next to a lit gas hob. Meanwhile, everyone tries to blame everyone else, with roads minister Mike Penning saying that Maude didn’t understand how big a jerrycan actually is (20 litres, fact fans), Labour peer Lord Toby Harris calling for Maude’s resignation, shadow chancellor Ed Balls blaming the government for what he says is an attempt to bury the cash for access scandal and Labour generally blaming David Cameron for presiding over a ‘shambles’. Lord Harris in particular seems to have misinterpreted the original advice and tweeted:
“This woman was following advice from Govt Minister Francis Maude & ends up with 40% burns. Disgraceful. He shd resign.”
Tragic though the York accident is, I’m 99.999999% certain that Maude did NOT advise the public to pour petrol into an open container next to a gas flame.
This tendency that we have to panic buy at the remotest possibility of something becoming thin on the ground is utterly fucking insane. When we had two days of snow at the start of February, supermarkets reported panic buying of staples such as bread and milk. Before each and every Christmas, people behave as though the shops will never be open ever again. They seem totally unable to grasp the fact that if they panic buy, things will run out faster. God knows what would happen if we had an actual real emergency, probably they’d just panic loot instead.
News reports are saying that as a result of the moronic over-reactions of the fuel-buying public over the last few days (my words, not theirs), it now could be several days before petrol stations can be restocked. Cui bono? At the moment, tanker drivers who may have overtime payments in the pipeline as they spend extra hours delivering and the government, who have netted an extra £32m in fuel duty. Nice work, people.