Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Power To The People

Citizen Smith? Me? Hardly! But it's certainly nice to see that "the people" - presumably the same people who, not so long ago, were represented by "the people's party" ["We are back as the people's party, says Blair", The Times, 2 October 1996] - are still capable of wielding a little influence under Gordon Brown-Trousers' wannabe dictatorship.

To that end, truck drivers blocked roads in London and Cardiff as a protest against the ever-rising fuel prices, according to the Telegraph. And good for them, say I! I'm all in favour of law and order, but this is still - just about - a free country, and there's no harm in seriously aggrieved citizens making their displeasure known. It's a basic democratic right, and, as such, I'm amazed that the protest it was allowed to proceed unhindered and unharassed - always assuming that it was, of course.

Only a few weeks ago, such a thing would have been unlikely in the extreme. Spin doctors would have been gyrating in their efforts to portray the protesters as unlawful, ungrateful, unpleasant people who have no right to express their views in any way that might, conceivably, allow those views to become known to anyone else. These days, of course, the government has rather more to worry about than a few traffic jams.

It looks like the McBean is heading for his second humiliating climbdown in as many weeks, with whispers than the hugely unpopular hikes in road tax and fuel duty may be axed or, at the very least, softened. Of course, that's a welcome move, even though the PM will probably shrug it off as "listening" rather than frantically trying to save his neck.

Then again, they're probably one and the same thing - he's listened, and heard that everybody hates him. He's probably the most despised PM in living memory, exceeding (with some effort, I should think) the 1980s hatred of Mrs T by several degrees of magnitude. And as for bungling incompetence - well, John Major looks like a streetwise shrewd operator by comparison, doesn't he? Under those circumstances, a true leader who actually believed in their policies would grit their teeth, batten down the hatches and plough onwards. A true politician, on the other hand, looks for a way to get out of the mess, then looks for someone to blame. Easy to tell which is Brown-Trousers, isn't it?

And so, people power prevails. This time. But I wonder how many of those protesting trucks, that blocked the A40 into London, and brought the M4 to a virtual standstill, were caught on CCTV? And how many of their drivers will be receiving some sort of reprimand - or retribution? For this is Big Brother Britain (no, not the tedious TV show) where we're fined up to £110 for putting our bins out on the wrong day, overfilling them or putting the wrong things out for recycling while violent crime stalks the streets. Broken Britain, the Sun calls it, and they're not so far wrong.

Billy Seggars.

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