Talks resume this week between the fuel distributors and Unite the Union to avoid a petrol delivery strike. I bet Francis Maude can hardly suppress his anxiety as the prospect of a REAL strike actually gets closer. After scaring the public into filling everything from bath tubs to pickled onion jars with unleaded, I wouldn't be surprised if he spent his long weekend trying to get a loan from the Big Society Bank to buy an oil field in the North Sea.
But why did people take any notice of Francis's 1940s Jerry Can filled rant (see what I did there?), in the first place?
An Ipsos Mori poll last year told us that being a politician was the least trusted profession that you could have. Just 14% of respondents, or 1 or 7, said they actually believed that politicians tell the truth. Even more worrying is that our elected representatives came dead last out of all the professions to choose from.
To give some context, even bankers and journalists did better. If you believe this poll, only 14% of people agreed with Francis on fuel, while the rest of us just carried on thinking he was yet another lying political nutter. If that's true, then the 1 in 7 people who did believe him were the ones that went crazy, queued for 24 hours a day and bought ALL the fuel.
I now understand why the Fire Brigade were so angry. I mean, as we speak, 14% of our households and garages must now be so full of fuel that they have more explosive potential than a terrorist sleeper cell. Seriously, never mind panic buying fuel, we should be panic buying fire blankets. And just to create the perfect storm, most of the South East has a hosepipe ban, so you face a criminal record if you fill your kid's paddling pool to protect yourself against your crazy politician believing neighbour who has been showering in diesel for the last week.
Mind you, I suppose it could have been worse, instead of Francis Maude, what would have happened if someone who we do trust had told us to buy petrol? Past polls have told us that the most trusted people in the UK include the Queen, Sir Richard Branson, Lord Alan Sugar and Sir David Attenborough. Can you even begin to imagine the power that these select few can wield? It's even more clear to me now why Sir Alan accepted a peerage in the House of Lords. He was so overcome with the burden of the power at his disposal that he had to sabotage it by entering politics until he was ready to take back his rightful seat of power on the Apprentice.
The most surprising thing about this whole fuel saga, politics and public life in general is why no one has really harnessed the true power of these individuals. For example, if I was the union representing the fuel tankers right now I would be offering Sir Richard free fuel on his planes for life for one scaremongering quote. One word from Sir Richard and the country would be brought to its knees. Now that's what I call a negotiation.
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