Motorists gearing up to fight petrol price rises

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The Independent Online

Politicians and petrol companies are steeling themselves for a motorists' backlash against rising prices.

Politicians and petrol companies are steeling themselves for a motorists' backlash against rising prices.

A spokesman for the prime minister, Tony Blair, was quick to distance him from any involvement. He said: "The Prime Minister does not determine the price of petrol. It's not for the Prime Minister to indulge in TV reality shows and judge the price of the oil market."

Yet only a few weeks ago Mr Blair was saying: "We look very carefully at the impact of higher oil prices on the world economy. Where we can, and where we are able to, we try and take action."

The signs are that he is right to take fright. A new survey shows drivers would back fresh demonstrations against price increase. Up to seven in 10 motorists would support fuel blockades, which so frightened the government four years ago, according to the Churchill motor insurance company. It found that six in 10 motorists were taking some sort of action to protect themselves from a fuel crisis, including stocking up on groceries, filling spare fuel tanks to keep in cars and always ensuring that their car's fuel tank was full. The survey discovered that more than four in 10 motorists claimed they always shopped around for fuel. This was backed by chain e-mails that have started doing the rounds in an attempt to rally support for a petrol boycott.

One argues that the best tactic is to concentrate the buyers' strike on two of the main retailers, BP and Esso, hurting them whilst continuing to buy from other outlets. It says: "If BP and Esso are not selling any petrol, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. Acting together we can make a difference. If you're fed up paying too much for petrol, please pass this message on."

The Petrol Retailers Association director, Roy Holloway, said it was impossible to forecast just how high petrol prices would go from the present average of 82p for a litre of unleaded. He said: "If the price of crude goes up, prices at the pumps go up."