Editorial: The Fuel Tax Dispute

The fuel blockades last month—which threaten to return unless Gordon Brown cuts excise duty in the next few weeks—brought the operation of capitalism in Britain to its greatest point of crisis since the 1970s. Everyday life and the functioning of the emergency services were threatened in a way not seen since the dark days of the Winter of Discontent during the last Labour government.

This time it was not the organised working class in the trade unions that was battling the government. Instead, it was a tiny group of small businessmen and farmers who, without ballots and for the most part acting unlawfully, decided to try and hold the government and then other sections of the owning class—such as the oil companies—to ransom. Through receiving majority public support for their stand against fuel prices they were able to bring the country to a near standstill.

Looked at in the round, there are a number of points to be noted about this action: