A nation grinding to a haltgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
A nation grinding to a halt
) 12 September 2000
Protests halt fuel deliveries; Thousands of petrol stations closed; Queen in crisis talks
By Andrew Buncombe, Andrew Grice and Cahal Milmo
Panic buying, a very non-British militancy and the most widespread public protests since the poll-tax riots left large swaths of the country facing an unprecedented fuel drought last night.
The Queen chaired a meeting of the Privy Council at Balmoral, which approved the use of emergency powers to require the oil companies to ensure even distribution across the country and maintain fuel supplies to the emergency services and schools. Helen Liddell and Richard Caborn, who are both Trade and Industry ministers, were present at the meeting.
Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, chaired an unscheduled session of the Civil Contingencies Committee, which co-ordinates the Government's actions at a time of national emergency.
Government sources insisted there were no immediate plans to draft in troops, but said they could be used if the position deterioriated. Ministers hope that a much stronger police presence will ensure that the blockades at the oil refineries are lifted.
"It's for the police to take whatever operational decisions they feel are appropriate," Mr Blair's spokesman said in what was seen as a coded message that the Government expected them to take a tougher stance. "He is giving his strong support to whatever decisions they have to take."
With 75 per cent of fuel deliveries halted by protests across Britain, several cities and large rural areas were expected to have run out of petrol by today. Already a number of towns in the North were said to be "dry".
Downing Street insisted last night that panic buying of fuel was unnecessary and that fuel supplies would continue.
A motorist collapsed and died outside a filling station near Abergavenny, South Wales. Anthony Probert, a retired British Steel worker, had just reached the petrol pumps after queuing for a lengthy period when he was believed to have suffered a heart attack.
Encountering civil disruption on a national scale for the first time since becoming Prime Minister, Mr Blair insisted he would not appease demonstrators with tax cuts.
"We fully understand and share the concern of businesses and motorists about the high fuel prices but we cannot and we will not alter government policy on petrol through blockades and pickets," he said. "That's not the way we make policy in Britain, and as far as I am concerned it never will be."
But while Mr Blair maintained an uncompromising stance, the scale of the problem was hard to exaggerate.
Mr Blair was even prevented from attending a celebratory dinner in Hull last night to mark John Prescott's 30 years in Parliament. The Deputy Prime Minister himself only managed to get to the event 90 minutes late.
Countryside supporters earlier chanted Mr Blair out as he left Hull City Hall where he had made a speech paying tribute to Mr Prescott. Police horses cantered down the road to block fox-hunting protesters.
Downing Street last night confirmed that the Prime Minister had been in constant contact with ministers including Mr Straw and Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, about the fuel blockades. Ministers have told the police that they have government support.
The wave of demonstrations began inauspiciously last Thursday when 100 farmers and hauliers blockaded Shell's Stanlow refinery at Ellesmere Port. But by last night, six of Britain's nine refineries were under siege and few parts of the country remained unaffected.
Garages that still had supplies were cashing in by charging up to #2.50 a litre a price which panic-buying motorists were prepared to pay.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents forecourt operators, said that more than 200 filling stations in North-west England were closed and several motorway service stations had run dry.
The Yorkshire towns of Huddersfield, Keighley and Pontefract had run out of unleaded petrol by 2pm.
A spokesman for BP said its garages in South Wales were out of fuel, while Texaco revealed one-third of its 957 stations nationwide were close to empty or completely dry.
TotalFinaElf said about 35 per cent of its 1,400 stations were running dry. Shell said 330 of its 1,100 stations had run out or were about to do so. Esso declared that more than 350 of its 1,600 stations had run dry while one-fifth of Sainsbury's 223 stations were out of petrol.
A PRA spokeswoman said: "It seems there are queues developing across the country, even on London forecourts, which is very worrying because it is really panic buying.
"There is adequate fuel in this area but panic buying has set in and when the fuel is not being replaced the problems follow. This is exactly what happened in the North-west."
As a result of the shortages, some ambulance and fire services were restricting non-emergency work to conserve stocks.
-- Uncle Bob (email@example.com), September 11, 2000
It took a while, but the shit is hitting the fan!
Y2K IS FOR REAL!!
-- (WE@ARE.DOOMED), September 11, 2000.
Y2K + 1 ?!?
-- Uncle Bob (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 12, 2000.
PEOPLE! RUN DON'T WALK TO THE NEAREST GAS STATION TOMORROW AND FILL ALL OF YOUR Y2K GAS JUGS, YOUR CAR, EVEN YOUR FIVE GALLON BUCKETS AND GOLDFISH BOWL!!
-- HURRY (email@example.com), September 12, 2000.
Hmmmm, the chickens are coming home to roost. We've had eight years of Clintonomics - life is good, the economy is great. So what if gasoline prices rise to $3.00 a gallon, and so what if $1.50 of it goes to Uncle Sam. Life is good, the economy is great. So what if heating oil prices doubles and people freeze in the bitter cold. Bundle up, tough it out, after all the economy is great and life is good. So what if we have to pay double for fresh produce and all the little goodies we fat Americans love to indulge in. Life is good, the economy is great. Looks like my Y2K quilts, sweaters and jackets will come in handy this winter - and my 50 gallon barrels of kerosene.
-- prepared and proud of it (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 12, 2000.
It's all part of Shrubby's plot to get in the hot seat. His Dad is using his oil business and CIA connections to engineer an energy crisis, just in time to make everyone mad at the Democrats right before the election. Little Shrubya will say he has just the cure because of all his "experience" in the oil business, and the sheeple will buy it. As soon as he gets in, Daddy will make a few phone calls, and presto! everything is "fixed".
-- (email@example.com), September 12, 2000.
OK I give up. I hope Gore is elected and the Dems take control of both houses of Congress. I hope EVERY LIBERAL PROGRAM is voted into law. I want taxes to be increased on the corporations and individuals to fund every program to the max. I want all environmental causes to have their programs voted into law. If a factory causes polution shut it down immediately. Ban all sales of any car that gets less than 50 miles per gallon. Tax existing vehicles that do $1,000 or more a year. Raise the price of gas 300% to promote mass transit.
Raise realestate taxes on single family homes to five times current levels and eliminate taxes on multiple family homes housing 20 or more families if they are built in the cities.
All inherited money and property should be abolished. When you die all you have must go to the Gov't. Why should your children have any advantage over other less fortunate children.
Release from prison any inmate the cause the prison population not to reflect the exact percentage of that group in the population.
Have a great time in the New United States.
-- Chief (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 12, 2000.
OK I give up. I hope Bush is elected and the Repubs take control of both houses of Congress. I hope EVERY LIBERAL PROGRAM is VETOED out of law. I want taxes to be ELIMINATED on the corporations and wealthy individuals to destroy every program we have. I want all environmental causes to have their programs vetoed out of law. If a factory doesn't cause pollution, shut it down immediately until it does. Require sales of only cars that get less than 5 miles per gallon. Tax existing vehicles that don't $1,000,000 or more a day. Lower the price of gas 300% to eliminate mass transit. Require every living being in the US to own at least 3 automobiles.
Eliminate real estate taxes on single family homes and raise taxes on multiple family homes housing 20 or more families if they are built in the cities. People shouldn't be living in homes in the cities, that's what the streets are for.
All inherited money and property should go only to the wealthy. When you die all you have must go to Bill Gates. Why should your children have any advantage over other more fortunate children.
Release from prison any inmate that used to make more than $100,000 a year. Kill the remainder to save taxpayer money.
Have a great time in the New United States. Wahoo!!
-- (email@example.com), September 12, 2000.