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
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: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003