If ever there was a vindication of what we’ve been saying for the last four years about Westminster politicians being completely disconnected from the burden of road fuel costs, its Andy Burnham’s recent tragic howler on the current cost of a litre of unleaded.
The Labour leader-in-waiting told a union conference that petrol was £1.60 a litre, when its actually £1.16p.
His audience rightly greeted this revealing slip up with a hail of booing. And the sad, inescapable truth here is that too many of our politicians still don’t understand how important transport costs are to the UK economy.
To get the figure wrong by over 40p doesn’t just show he can’t be spending much time on a forecourt, it also reveals an ignorance of just how serious £1.60 a litre would be to families and businesses across the country. Such a high price per litre would have crippled the economy, raised inflation, hiked interest rates and sent firms and individuals into bankruptcy and insolvency. That he’s obviously been labouring under this high priced misconception for some time shows that he just isn’t engaged or aware of what the price of petrol and diesel means to the rest of us. This is a deeply telling mistake that doesn’t reflect well on the London political class at all.
FairFuelUK has known that our politicians are out of touch but never in our wildest imaginings did we think they’d be this detached from the everyday realities of transport costs. This incident proves that we need to continue educating ministers and MPs on how expensive fuel and how it affects all our lives. The irony here is that if FairFuel hadn’t lobbied so hard to suspend all Labour’s planned duty rises since 2011, petrol would indeed by £1.60 a litre, Andy Burnham would have been spot on and the economy would have crumbled to dust.
We’re absolutely right to campaign for lower fuel costs for the UK and keep pushing London to grasp how growth, jobs and prosperity are conditional on affordable transport. Because if we didn’t the £1.60 litre would be a terrible and intolerable reality. We should all understand the seriousness of Mr Burnham’s mistake – its proof that politicians still aren’t listening to the UK fuel debate and it’s our duty to make sure they do.
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