Diary: Did the PM start a fuel frenzy for no good reason?

 

Now that it has got the nation's motorists queuing in the forecourts, it is important for the Government that other actors in the drama play their allotted roles. The head of the Unite trade union, Len McCluskey, has been cast as the Arthur Scargill of our day, Ed Miliband as the weak leader who takes Unite's money but cannot stop it causing mayhem, and the Daily Mail has added in the "embarrassing" fact that the union official who is handling the tanker drivers' grievances is Diana Holland, the treasurer of the Labour Party.

Ms Holland recently wrote to the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, protesting about the language ministers are using to suggest that Unite is trying to foment a strike, as if the tanker drivers' complaints about health and safety are something new. She gave a long list of government ministers who had been warned over the past two years that trouble was brewing.

The letter thanked Mr Davey for his "helpful recognition of Unite's commitment to ensuring emergency supplies" and asserted: "We want a negotiated solution..."

This raises some interesting questions. What if Unite convinces the independent conciliatory service that the drivers have a case? Suppose the talks succeed and there is no strike. How will ministers explain that to motorists who have queued for petrol and risked burning down their homes by storing it?

Ministers must be praying for Mr McCluskey or someone at Unite to say something resoundingly stupid because, if they don't, David Cameron could come out of this as the Prime Minister who started a fuel frenzy for no good reason.

Keeping morale high

Morale at The Sunday Times has been at an all-time high this week after the superb sting it pulled off against the Conservative Party's now former treasurer, Peter Cruddas, which puts the paper in line for a bouquet of journalism awards. But how can it follow a success like that? Here is a clue. In the last couple of days, every member of the Cabinet has received an email from a Sunday Times journalist putting the following questions:

"When was the last time you consumed a pasty, and where did you purchase it from?"

"Do you prefer to eat your pasty hot or cold?"

"How often would you estimate you eat pasties?"

"What is your favourite flavour of pasty? (for example, cheese and onion, curry, traditional Cornish etc.)"

"How many cars does your garage fit?"

"Do you own a jerry can?"

It should make for a gripping read.

Who is Lord Black of Crossharbour?

Poor old Lord Black of Crossharbour. Not only is the former multimillionaire owner of The Daily Telegraph languishing in a US prison cell – a victim, he says, of injustice – but the US public appears to have forgotten him. Contestants on Jeopardy!, which bills itself as America's favourite quiz show, were asked who Conrad Black is. None knew the answer.

Interpreting efficiencies

The idea of bringing in a private company to run a government service is to make it more efficient. Whether the court interpreter service has improved since January, when the Ministry of Justice outsourced it to Applied Language Solutions, is a matter of dispute.

The East Anglia Daily Times tells the story of a Vietnamese interpreter from Newcastle who got up at 3am to catch the train to Peterborough, where he changed trains to Ipswich to be in South East Suffolk magistrates' court by 10am. The hearing, into the case of Phuong Van Duong, who is accused of producing cannabis, began at 10.43, and was over at 10.51. The interpreter was then free to begin the other half of his 564-mile round trip.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links