EDITORIAL: Timing is crucial when protesting

The essence of great comedy and campaigning is timing - a lesson

that would-be fuel protesters would be well advised to take on board in

advance of 13 November (the last day of the 60 day deadline imposed on

the Government in September).



During the first round of protests the loose group of protesters

succeeded not only in taking the Government by surprise, but in

eliciting a considerable amount of sympathy from embattled drivers.



However, if as planned, the protesters take to the roads next week in a

motorised modern day version of the Jarrow march, they are unlikely to

receive the grudging backing of the nation's motorists a second

time.



Given tempests, rising waters and a crippled rail network, the portents

are not auspicious. No matter how much the average driver resents petrol

costs, fuel rationing is likely to prove an inconvenience too far.



Admittedly, the protesters find themselves in something of a catch 22,

having given the Government a deadline. But with the country suffering a

virtual meltdown this week, the decision to postpone, not cancel, the

threatened protest is more likely to be viewed as a case of enlightened

magnanimity, the action of a group in tune with the mood of the country

and climate of public opinion (a trick all too often missed by

Blair).



If on the other hand, an environmental organisation was to choose this

moment to leverage the current chaos - compounded by the UK climate - to

launch a fresh initiative focusing on government responsibility on

global warming, the portents may prove rather more favourable.



Coincidentally, 13 November also marks the opening of the 6th United

Nations World Conference on Climate Change in The Hague, addressing

industrialised nations' responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas

emissions.



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