The Petrol Elephant (Republished from

What does it take to be a good British citizen these days? Well, it would seem from watching ITV news last night that it involves cheering on your local authority as it throws millions down the drain, being overwhelmed that your government spent £25bn of your taxes on two weeks of sports fun, but screaming blue murder if your local shop short-changes you by a quid.

How else can one explain the clip attached to this article?

After a long campaign the Office of Fair Trading has delighted some by asking for evidence to see if consumers are being ripped off by petrol companies.

The main accusation, that when the wholesale price of oil falls, the drop is not fully passed on to punters at the pump. We’re being ‘ripped off’ apparently! A cab driver adds “someone is making a lot of money” as Laura Kuenssberg declares that petrol has “nearly doubled” in recent years

(hands up who can remember when fuel was 65p a litre)

Laura helpfully gives us this graphic (just ignore the mathematical fail for now).

Now, from that, who do you think is ripping us off? Petrol companies delaying passing on a few pence in reductions? Or do you reckon there’s an entirely different entity causing it? Our friendly cabbie is upset that fuel is cheaper all over the continent. Who does he think is responsible for the disparity? Companies which spend £billions in research, development, prospecting, distilling, and delivery of the product or and this may be an off-the-wall view in our wibbly-wobbly modern bovine nation – could it be, perhaps, possibly, the 80 f++king pence on every single litre screwed from us by the government? Complaining about oil companies fiddling with a few pence here and there is like being happy to be cracked over the head daily by a thug with lead piping, but running to the police because a market trader trod on your foot.

So the OFT is going to spend some of those tax resources on investigating petrol suppliers. Fantastic, I’ll bet they’re quivering in their cowboy boots; will quickly rush to knock a few pence off prices and the public sector will claim a wondrous success. Except that by the time the OFT reports back, Osborne will have already slapped another planned 3p on duty and harmed the country that little bit more.

Our findings suggest that a 2.5 pence reduction in fuel duty would result in the creation of 175 thousand jobs within a year and 180 thousand jobs within five years of such a reduction. Such a reduction, we estimate, would not result in any fiscal loss to the Government, while GDP would receive a boost of 0.32 per cent within a year and 0.34 per cent within five years. The government screws motorists to the tune of £48bn per year yet ITV don’t feel any of that merits a mention. As elephants go, that’s a mammoth of one running around garage forecourts that one of our
major broadcasting companies didn’t quite notice.

Good grief


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