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Media Cycle #4 - Fuel Protests
#21
I'm pleased the Chancellor of the Exchequer is slowly seeing sense, first he suggested that the British public shouldn't have a right to demonstrate, now he is saying the Government will listen to all. Seeing as he is having trouble remembering what he said before, not a good trait to have when you are in charge of the public's finances i might add, let's hope tomorrow he forgets about ruling out taking decisive , immedate action now to lower fuel prices, calls an emergency budget and lowers fuel duty. 

The question I ask is this, How can the Government claim to be listening to all, when they are deliberately silencing the protesters? The Government is restricting the right to free speech, that is shameful and wrong.
James Allen

MP for Leeds Central

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#22
Despite being able to agree on the term communication it is clear I and the apparent leader of the Conservative Party do not agree on its meaning or use. Communication is not inciting the public to act against the national interest, to knowingly call to continue a situation that puts people in danger as essential services are affected. Communication is about engaging in principled discussion around a course forward. 

The sadness of the fuel crisis is the people carrying out the protests are thinking about the national interests but are tragically harming our essential services and hurting those closest to them. They are not served by Tory politicians stoking the flames and diverting attention away from the consequences of this protest or what complying with the demands given would mean - demands, I add, that do not come from an organised central source or represent the will of all the protesters. 

It would set a dark precedent for any Government to submissively accept the demands laid down by a group of protesters who affect our national infrastructure or public services. This time the meaning is well intentioned, but would the next time be? It would only take one unprincipled group of protesters and this country could be ruled by minorities who shout the loudest - we do not live in that country but one who holds open and free elections where people can vote out the party who doesn't represent their will. Like they did with the Tories who brought in the policies that led to this crisis in the first place.
MP for Cambridge (1992 - )
Independent 
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#23
Look, the Tories are fond of twisting my words from a week ago to distract from their frankly irresponsible stance on the fuel blockades, but let’s get serious for a moment.

The Conservative Party wants us give in to the demands of these blockades. That sets an awful precedent - government has to listen to all its people not just whoever is shouting loudest at any given time. However much I hear the anger over fuel costs, we cannot and will not make policy in the face of blockades that put our services at risk.

But we still don’t know where the money would come from for their magical mystery fuel duty cut. One shadow cabinet minister has suggested we can just cut the duty and carry on spending - which would mean a multi billion dollar black hole in the Tory plans. This would just mean a return to Tory boom and bust - borrowing billions, and as a result pushing up interest rates and inflation. The Tories would just replace fuel costs with higher mortgage costs and higher high street costs. We all remember the Tory 15% interest rates that were the result of their irresponsibility - and we now know that Harold Saxon hasn’t learned his lesson.
Rt. Hon. Sean Manning MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer (2000 - )
Labour MP for Bristol East (1992 - )
Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1997 - 2000)
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#24
The Chancellor talks about being irresponsible, it's his own party under his predecessor Gordon Brown who increased fuel duty and got us into this mess in the first place.

This government claims to be all seeing and on the side of motorists and the British public, yet the Government, the Chancellor, or the Prime Minister has not spoken to a single protester or listened to what they have said, people are angry, people are upset that we pay far more for our fuel then our European Neighbours do.

The Government initiating emergency powers is just going to make people angrier, it doesn't solve the problem of rising fuel prices. Under the Conservatives we will cut fuel duty to lower fuel prices, we will take the responsible decisions for the British people
James Allen

MP for Leeds Central

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#25
Do not be fooled into conflating the unilateral and frankly abusive response from this Labour government on the issue of skyrocketing fuel prices in this country for real action. The Prime Minister has enacted emergency powers without consulting parliament in any form or fashion in order to put down the civil action that has taken place in order to put this issue at the door step of Downing Street. These emergencies powers will not lower the price of fuel, they will not ease the burden that is being place on hard working Britons and it will not put our fuel costs in line with that of Spain, Germany or France. Rather, under Labour, Britons will continue to pay more and more at the pump and if that bothers you, beware, because they will convene COBRA and enact emergency powers to suppress your dissent. And from a Labour government government no doubt! Labour has crafted an elaborate ploy here to mask not actually making a decision and actually governing-- inaction and dithering, hallmarks of all Labour governments. An immediate reduction of the petrol levy by 2p could face an immediate cost to the government to the tune of one billion pounds. Labour throws up their hands as if no other action of government results in an impact on service delivery, as if that was not in fact the art of governing; balancing all of those needs and requirements. A 2p reduction would end the protests peacefully, and would lower the price of petrol to bring it more in line with our European neighbours. A 2p reduction would immediately help hard working Britons and would keep our country on the move, doing the day to day business that makes us great. A 2p reduction would signal loud and clear that this Labour government understands the impact of rising petrol costs and that it is indeed capable of making tough decisions and actually governing.
Peter Edward James Edgecomb BA, MEcon
Member of Parliament | Sutton Coldfield
Conservative and Unionist Party
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#26
I find it extraordinary the Lib dem leader has accused me of attempting to score party political points. It's completely ludicrous and what the Conservatives are doing is pointing out to the British public that it doesn't have to be this way, with a Conservative Government you would get lower fuel duty and public services functioning, not these scare tactics coming from this joke of a Labour Party and the out of touch Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats believe a freeze in fuel duty is the right way forward, but through their policy they are just contributing to the problem, not solving it.
James Allen

MP for Leeds Central

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#27
As I've stated previously, the Chancellor mishandled this matter from the outset. There was a missed opportunity for dialogue with the demonstrators which could have de-escalated this situation and brought stability. Regardless of the frustration, now that essential services are being impacted by the demonstrations and innocent, hard-working Britons are being effected it is time to end the protests. I believe 2p on the litre is a small price to pay in the short term to secure billions to support public services. Yet I recognize the regressive nature of fuel taxation and hope the government will explore other ways to raise revenue to ease pressure on motorists.
Rt Hon Harriet Roth MP
Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North (1983-)
Former Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Energy and the Environment
Former Secretary of State for Housing and Urban Development

Socialist Campaign Group - Eurosceptic, Peacenik, Bennite
Labour Party



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#28
Once again the Government showcases its fundamental lack of common sense when it comes to public spending. They could roll up their sleeves and curb the excessive waste in spending we can see on many places in Whitehall, and find the money to reduce fuel duty without hurting public services. They could, but they won’t, driven as there are by a failed economic mentality that promotes high taxation and high spending whenever possible. For this Chancellor, it seems tax and spend mentality is very much alive and well.

It is a sad sight when the government confuses peaceful protests with riots, particularly when the public has a right to be tired of the excessive burden placed on their purse. Britons have a fundamental right to protest against excesses such as the current levels of fuel duty, and the Put Down the Pumps Campaign is such a peaceful manner to showcase that enough is enough. The fact that they’re reduced to insulting thousands of hardworking Britons showcases their increasing lack of competence on this matter.
Rt. Hon. Edward Winter MP / Conservative and Unionist Party
Member of Parliament for Ashford (1979 - Present)

Shadow Foreign Secretary (1992 - Present)
Leader of the House of Commons (1990-1992)
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#29
The Conservative Party needs to take a long, hard look at itself and how it has acted in this blockade. We have consistently said that we understand the concern on fuel prices but that the government cannot and will not change policy on the basis of blockades. An 'emergency' budget - the very name should make it clear what a folly it would be - would mean the government capitulating to the demands of a small group of people who are willing to blockade refineries to get what they want. No serious and responsible government can capitulate to those tactics, even in this case where we are more than willing to hear their concerns and how we can address the issue. Whatever the methods, and whatever any of our sympathies with them or the individuals involved, the blockades are now putting public services at risk. The Conservative Party, by so explicitly supporting this action, is complicit in this threat to our public services. They need to rescind their endorsement - whatever they think of fuel duty - and urge the blockades to end. Anything less is an utter dereliction of their duty as public servants and a betrayal of their constituents.
Rt. Hon. Sean Manning MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer (2000 - )
Labour MP for Bristol East (1992 - )
Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1997 - 2000)
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#30
The Chancellor claims to understand concerns, yet provides no solutions. Rather than responsibly acknowledging the merits of an emergency budget to tackle this issue now and provided relief, he leaves the rhetoric of understanding the concerns of ordinary, hardworking Britons at the door and stands unwilling to do anything in the hope this matter just goes away. Britons across the country want their Government to listen to what they have to say and display some degree of common sense, and Britain deserves better than the clumsy, arrogant manner in which the Government is handling this crisis.
Rt. Hon. Edward Winter MP / Conservative and Unionist Party
Member of Parliament for Ashford (1979 - Present)

Shadow Foreign Secretary (1992 - Present)
Leader of the House of Commons (1990-1992)
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#31
The Conservative Party need to come clean on what a cut to Fuel Duty would actually mean for the people of this country. For a party that claims to be all about sound finances they seem very happy to cut £13bn out of Government revenue without finding an adequate replacement. To cut Fuel Duty the Tories will have to raise Income Tax, VAT or Corporation Tax, making our country less competitive in the World, or they will have to cut public spending, endangering our NHS and our education system, or they will have to borrow it endangering our national finances and enlarging our national debt. So which will it be Sir Harry?
REBECCA FLAIR

LIB DEM MP FOR MONTGOMERYSHIRE
______
'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded. - Friedrich Hayek
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman
Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. - Milton Friedman
______

Mac the Great and Powerful
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#32
Both the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party have criticised the Conservative Party for promising to reduce fuel duty in order to lower fuel prices. The Liberal Democrats and Labour have thrown figures around out of thin air which hold no weight. 

I can confirm from today, the Conservatives would cut 3p off a litre of fuel to alleviate the pressure that motorists are facing, this cut would be implemented with immediate effect. We also pledge to reduce fuel duty further at the next budget. This is one of the measures that the Conservatives would implement to help motorists.  We expect to fund this fuel duty cut through crackdown on tax avoidance and targeting wasteful spending, whilst protecting critical front-line services like Health, Education and Defence. Labour are prepared to silence people from speaking up and the Liberal Democrats are quite happy to stick with the status quo, The Conservatives are the only party prepared to cut fuel duty and take serious action on rising fuel prices.
James Allen

MP for Leeds Central

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#33
Friends, only one party has listened to the voice of the people. When there was resistance to Labour's extreme tax-and-spend agenda, the Prime Minister said "we will do the same thing we always do or we will hurt public services!" I am proud to help lead a party that has the interests of ordinary Britons front and center in our agenda and I am proud that we have committed to lowering the Fuel Duty by 3p.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Jonathan Horncastle, GBE PC MP Ph.D. (Cantab)
Conservative Party, Tory Reform Group
Shadow First Secretary of State (1992-Present)
Shadow Secretary of State for Regions, Nations, and Devolution (1992-Present)
Chairman of the Conservative Party (1992-Present)
MP for Chelsea and Fulham (1979-Present)
Secretary of State for Education and Science (1990-1992)
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#34
Harold Saxon needs to be upfront with the British people: where is the £1.5 billion it would cost to cut fuel duty come from? He can't wave his hand, promise to tackle tax avoidance and wasteful spending, and think that will be enough. And nothing changes the fact that every penny off of fuel duty costs as much as it does to pay 25,000 nurses. I welcome the end of the fuel blockades and will seriously consider the future of fuel duty at the upcoming Budget, but unlike the Conservatives we will not commit to knee-jerk reactionist politics. We all know that when the Conservatives promise 'efficiency' they mean more cuts and more debt, and that's really what Harold Saxon's fuel duty plan would really mean for our public services.
Rt. Hon. Sean Manning MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer (2000 - )
Labour MP for Bristol East (1992 - )
Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1997 - 2000)
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#35
With the end of the fuel protests this Labour Government, through conviction and working in the national interest to protect public services, has not given in to undemocratic action or demands. 

We have listened to the people, but not just the protesters. We have listened to those who were having hospital appointments cancelled, those who couldn't get to work, those who had to take leave as they had to look after their children when their school was shut. This is what prompted this Government to action and I am proud that this Government did what was right and necessary to get the fuel flowing again. 

I have no doubt in the next budget we will see a reduction that is fair and strikes a balance between lowering the pressure on drivers and ensuring our public services are funded. Unlike the Conservative party we are in a position to deliver reduced fuel duty - which is only required due to the poor policies they introduced during their 18 years of power.
MP for Cambridge (1992 - )
Independent 
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#36
The Government's successful use of Emergency Powers to end the fuel protests is a shockingly authoritarian move and is a breach of the basic liberties on which this nation's society is built. This abuse of power is simply an attempt to play down a crisis brought about by this Government.
I applaud Sir Harold's plan to cut Fuel Duty by 3p to the litre as a start to fixing this crisis and I applaud even more so his commitment to cutting it further at a later budget. This commitment shows that the Conservatives under Sir Harold's leadership are the only Party committed to serving the interests of ordinary Britons and fixing the problems they face.
Calum Douglas Wilson MP
Fmr. Shadow Home Secretary (1992)
Fmr. Conservative Party Chief Whip (1992)
Conservative and Unionist Party
Monday Club
MP for Windsor & Maidenhead

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#37
What is clear here is that the Conservatives are the only political party to have pledged to cut fuel duty and take measures to lower fuel prices not just at the next budget, but here and now.

The Chancellor has cried out how the Conservatives will pay for it, well let me make this clear so he understands. The Conservatives will cut wasteful spending in Government Departments. To be clear we stand by our commitment to protect our frontline services and these will not be jepoardised, but we have Government departments where we can make efficiency savings and make government departments more effective. we can absolutely find £1.5 billion from savings from Government Departments where this Government has overspent
James Allen

MP for Leeds Central

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#38
Press cycle closed.
“Yes. It’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true. The bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies and… everybody lives happily ever after.”
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#39
Marks:

Labour: 16.5
 
Well, fuel crises aren’t ever going to be easy for you – but the way you spun it was admittedly off to a rusty start. Administratively, you probably took the wisest decision: yet there is little to be gained in going out full guns ablazing against a popular protest. Having your backbenchers critique you wasn’t a good look, either.
 
The shaky start definitely recovered towards the end though, which contributed to a narrow loss where you seriously could’ve been humiliated: consistent rhetoric is your best friend, and painting the protestors off as people hellbent on destroying public services does break through the public’s consciousness eventually, plus you land some really devastating attacks on the Tories. Not bad.
 
Conservatives: 17
 
I’m going to say what I said to Labour, but perhaps kind of reversed: you could’ve done better and this was your round to win big, not just narrowly. You started off really well by exploiting people’s concerns and coming up with a consistent anti-Labour narrative that resonated with voters. On top of that, you’re really skilled at sending out the troops in force – all of these contributed towards your win this press round.
 
Where did it all go downhill and stop you from winning 20-25 points this press cycle? Well, Saxon’s decision to leap into the protests a bit too passionately divides opinion and doesn’t make you look like a credible alternative government, even if it wins over the populist press. Some of the hysteria was a bit too much to the point even supporters of the fuel protests can see through it (the government are censoring free speech how? By getting fuel delivered across the country so public services don’t go under? You’re going to have to elucidate on these points more effectively if you want them to resonate).
 
It united a lot of the more ‘respectable’ and ‘establishment’ political figures against you – and the Labour and LD’s joined forces to deliver some pretty nasty swipes. Thankfully you seemed to show or suggest you do have a solid plan on cutting fuel duty whilst delivering the public services people in 2000 really want, which prevented this being an outright tie, the call for an emergency budget elsewhere also helps – just make sure this isn’t a short term gimmick that haunts you when you deliver your Shadow Budget.
 
Liberal Democrat: 16.5
 
When it comes to looking like a government in waiting, the Liberal Democrats show the Tories how it’s done (although the Tories shouldn’t do it in quite the same way – it was definitely more politically acute of them to oppose the Labour govt than it would be the Liberal Democrats). Opposition isn’t about opposition, it’s about showing you’re a viable alternate government – that means sometimes telling it how you see it is and knowing that you’re going to have to make some tough decisions. Flair does this effectively, looking mature, responsible and reasonable even to the fuel protestors. It’s such a shame electoral dynamics mean no matter what the Liberal Democrats could never truly look like a government in waiting… but, perhaps, just maybe, a coalition partner in waiting?
 
 
Influence Points Awarded to:
 
Elizabeth Tanner: “He is saying we must cut fuel prices to continental levels, then I expect him to say what taxes he will rise or look directly into the eyes of those he is proclaiming to defend and tell them that their local school must now be underfunded, that their local hospital will be cancelling surgeries because the 26p cut he is so quick to call for would cost £13 billions pounds.” The cost/public services point was made effectively, but imo you could’ve done better to highlight the bit about Saxon being Chief Sec and elucidates on that point: it wasn’t even the crux of your attack and it still made this bit the most effective attack in the whole press cycle. I winced reading it.
 
Rebecca Flair: “As to what should happen regarding fuel duty it is important to remember that fuel duty is in fact a necessary evil to incentivise the production and consumption of more fuel efficient modes of transport, be that a more fuel efficient car, a bus or a train.” Read Liberal Democrat section. Or, TL;DR you looked mature and reasonable here, which is always a good look.
 
Andrew Summer: “Britain deserves better than this clumsy, arrogant manner in which the government is handling this crisis.” Summer proves that from the backbenches he is alive, kicking and knows how to critique the government.  In this contribution in particular, but in all of Summers’, he shows the kind of response the Tories should have kept up with: scathing, sympathetic to the protestors – for sure – but not hysterical. His contributions lead to a few of the more right wing papers and commentators to lament how he should’ve been leader, but not in a way that would seriously damage Saxon’s reputation yet – it could look like sour grapes, but the point still stands that Summer rose above and beyond this press round.
 
General notes:
 
Ever heard the phrase ‘short and sweet’? Sometimes, the little things are just better. Definitely applies to comments you make to the press – some of them were very, very long winded, and the press’ attention span is small. Try to be as concise as possible when conveying your points – save the long, flowing poetic speeches for Parliament.
“Yes. It’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true. The bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies and… everybody lives happily ever after.”
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