Dear Friends, we can all breathe a mighty sigh of relief - for the rest of the year anyway. FairFuel's achievement in torpedoing the 3p August duty rise is significant and stands as one of this country's most successful protest campaigns. For that I must thank all our tireless supporters, backers and hard-working team. Most of all, congratulations to Peter Caroll, the campaign organiser, who has burnt more midnight oil than Saudi Arabia. Peter and I have spent the last few months furiously lobbying at Westminster, writing to every single MP, meeting Treasury officials, Labour's Shadow Treasury team and, right up to the night before the announcement, Danny Alexander, who couldn't have been more attentive, interested or supportive. To be absolutely fair, this government did listen to our entreaties.
George Osborne has been accused of a hasty U turn on fuel duty, but in his defence I have to say he's done The Right Thing. Back in March when the August duty rise was slated in the Budget, the world economy was in enormously better shape than it is now. Since then the ceiling has collapsed and we're firmly in a double dip recession with markets rising and falling in a single afternoon and hedge funds and banks selling off assets like a fire sale. The Chancellor has reacted to the shifting sands of the euro zone crisis and protected UK businesses and families from unnecessary future costs. That's what Chancellors are supposed to do and while he may be smarting from the strident cat-calling from the opposition benches, he's undoubtedly helped the economy and stimulated consumer activity.
I can't help smiling when I see the queue of personalities, politicians and newspapers who are lining up to claim that this is their victory. Those of you who read these pages regularly will know that FairFuel is the real power behind these many thrones and we've been the absolute instrument in making this happen. Peter Caroll's vision and two years of desperately hard work has brought us where we are today and begun a vital debate on the future of fuel duty. For me though, our most important achievement is getting politicians and MPs to understand that we can't carry on bleeding our economy through transport tax and the whole fuel duty mechanism has to change. This campaign is a gilt-edged example of how responsible, intelligent campaigning can change things, that democracy does indeed work and that if you shout loudly (and politely) enough the government of this country will listen. This is something about which we should all feel very proud indeed.