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
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
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