Internal message on fuel shows Tory government is “unfit to govern”

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By a Newsnet reporter

The SNP’s Westminster Transport spokesperson, Angus MacNeil MP, has angrily lashed out at the UK Government over this week’s petrol panic, describing the Cameron Government as “deeply dysfunctional” and “unfit to govern”.

Mr MacNeil’s remarks come after it came to light that the UK Government may have deliberately created the crisis in order to score political points against their Labour rivals, and to distract public attention from the negative reception received by last week’s Budget and the controversy over donations to the Conservative party.

By a Newsnet reporter

The SNP’s Westminster Transport spokesperson, Angus MacNeil MP, has angrily lashed out at the UK Government over this week’s petrol panic, describing the Cameron Government as “deeply dysfunctional” and “unfit to govern”.

Mr MacNeil’s remarks come after it came to light that the UK Government may have deliberately created the crisis in order to score political points against their Labour rivals, and to distract public attention from the negative reception received by last week’s Budget and the controversy over donations to the Conservative party.

Mr MacNeil has raised questions about a private message to Conservative constituency associations, reported on Saturday by former Telegraph editor Charles Moore.  In the message the Conservatives describe the potential strike as “our Thatcher moment”.

Mr Moore quotes the private message, sent out last week and intended for internal Conservative consumption:  

“This is our Thatcher moment.  In order to defeat the coming miners’ strike, she stockpiled coal.  When the strike came, she weathered it, and the Labour Party, tarred by the strike, was humiliated.  In order to defeat the coming fuel drivers’ strike, we want supplies of petrol stockpiled.  Then, if the strike comes, we will weather it, and Labour, in hock to the Unite union, will be blamed.”

Mr Moore said that the message proved that the UK Government was treating the public like “mugs” and “pawns in a Government organised blame-game”.  The former editor of the traditionally Conservative supporting newspaper adds:

“When Mrs Thatcher piled up the coal at power stations until the strike began in 1984, she was not inconveniencing the public.  In 2012, the Coalition is trying to press-gang the public, without saying so, into its political battles.  All those people queuing on the forecourts were pawns in a Government-organised blame-game.”

The advice from Government ministers has created panic buying and disruption across the UK, even though there are currently no problems with the fuel supply and no date for strike action has been announced.  The advice has also apparently led to a tragic accident, after a woman in Northern England received serious burns when decanting petrol she’d been storing at home from one container into another.

Calls are being made for the resignation of Conservative minister Francis Maude, who last week advised the public to fill up their petrol tanks and stock up on fuel in jerry cans in order to beat the strike.  After giving his advice, Mr Maude was slated by the Fire Brigades Union, who were concerned about the dangers of storing fuel at home, and pointed out that it is illegal to store more than 10 litres of fuel in domestic premises.

Unite, the union representing the fuel tanker drivers, still hopes that negotiations may find a solution to the dispute without strike action proving necessary.

Adding to the UK Government’s woes, the suspicion has now been voiced that the Conservatives deliberately created the panic over fuel supplies in order to distract attention from the negative publicity generated by George Osborne’s disastrous Budget and the revelations that business donors to the Conservative party were allegedly promised influence in policy making and access to senior Conservatives by the party’s co-treasurer.     

Commenting Mr MacNeil, the SNP MP for the Western Isles said:

“After this week’s display of arrogance, incompetence mixed with malign intent there is surely no-one left who believes this dysfunctional Westminster Government is fit to govern any aspect of Scottish life.

“Their ridiculous, incoherent ‘advice’ to motorists caused confusion, panic and tragedy in England and inconvenience and irritation at the pumps in Scotland.  Worse still was the malign intent behind their behaviour.

“Now we hear from the former editor of the Telegraph Charles Moore that a private message to Conservative constituency associations reveals that they were playing politics with this issue.

“The Tories were engaged in puerile politicking desperate to deflect attention from their unpopular Budget and sleaze ridden Prime Minister.  Their Liberal lapdogs trailed in behind in whimpering and repeating each and every nonsense concocted by their Tory masters.

“Politicians who jeopardise peoples’ lives and livelihoods are unfit to govern.  And this lot should not be allowed control over any aspect of Scottish life.”