FairFuelUK Campaigners are attending all three Major Party Political Conferences in 2014. We will write a review of each conference experience and will be honest, apolitical and fair about the way the Campaign is considered at each of the three Party events. Here is the first of those reviews.
The Labour Party Conference Experience
FairFuelUK attended the Labour Party Conference in Manchester and held a Fringe Event in the Midland Hotel, where the great and the good of current Labour Party Politics were staying right next to their conference and exhibition centre.
From left to right in the photo, James Hookham (FTA), Jack Semple (RHA), Quentin Willson (FairFuelUK), David Bizley (RAC) and Rob Shuttleworth (UKLPG) gave a day of their time to hopefully debate with Labour Party Delegates at their Conference, issues that affect the economy and 32m UK Road Users.
To hold this event FairFuelUK had to pay the Labour Party, through the Campaign's backers the FTA, in excess of £2,600 to hold a 60 minute meeting that also did not include £125 for each of FairFuelUK’s 5 panellists' security passes. And of course there were hotel accommodation costs to pay for with the inevitable inflated room rates to coincide with the Conference itself. SO the total cost of attending for FairFuelUK was about £4,000. Please note that all three Parties charge to run Fringe Events.
In the lead up to the Conference, FairFuelUK also paid for advertisements in selected media to entice Labour delegates to attend their Fringe Event. On top of that, a personal invitation was sent to each Labour MP to come and debate "Are 32m UK Road Users getting a fair deal from successive Governments?” This was the title of the event that was also in the Conference Programme (pictured) on page 70 for the 10,000 delegates to be in absolute no doubt of the content of FairFuelUK’s event. Labour's Twitter account was also contacted with several polite invitations to attend.
Each MP was informed very courteously that FairFuelUK was holding this event on behalf of its 750,000 supporters and sponsoring backers, "to simply find out where the Labour Party is currently positioned regarding its support of the UK road user. And, following this Fringe Meeting the Campaign will therefore be better placed to include in its Manifesto an up to date understanding of the Party's future approach to voting motorists, hauliers and other road users. In a recent Poll of 30,000+ motorists, 87.7% said they would vote or maybe vote for that politician that truly understands road user issues. This will be a key General Election Issue in 2015.”
The meeting was voluntarily chaired by Quentin Willson, who supports FairFuelUK Campaign without any recompense. FairFuelUK through the fabulous hosting of the FTA (a founding backer of the campaign) supplied breakfast to all attendees as well. The event itself was held at 8.00am on Monday Morning. At the same time as the FairFuelUK event there were 20 other meetings for Labour Delegates to choose from, including "Data, Democracy and Power” and those sponsored by the Childcare Voucher Providers Association, the British Chambers of Commerce, Society of Labour Lawyers, Electoral Reform Society and the Policy Network, to name but a few.
Only 16 Labour Conference Delegates turned out to attend FairFuelUK’s event. NOT ONE MP!
There was however one Prospective Labour Candidate for Altrincham and Sale West, James Wright who did attend. He was perplexed and somewhat embarrassed as to why his Party Members were not there to debate the issue. He said: "this is a no brainer, pump prices must come down to help the economy, and the Labour Party should be right behind the campaign”.
On the previous day (Sunday) of the Conference Howard Cox, the original founder of the FairFuelUK Campaign also attended FTA’s "Big Transport Interview” session with Mary Creagh MP, Shadow Transport Secretary. He asked her this question: "Following the Treasury’s support of FairFuelUK’s evidence that cutting fuel duty is now proven to be good for the economy, will the Labour Party support a 3p cut in Fuel Duty?” She replied: "I can’t answer this question because it is way above my pay grade.” She was however exceedingly vocal at this meeting about trams and cycling.
At a private dinner later in the evening hosted by the FTA and attended by 3 MPs from the Labour Party, Howard Cox again asked that question to these politicians including significant background information as to why they should indeed back this core campaign objective and listen to supporters of FairFuelUK. All 3 MPs avoided answering Howard's question and clearly showed no understanding of the issues that face 32 million road users of the United Kingdom.
The conclusion from this experience at the Labour Party Conference is absolutely clear: The Labour Party does NOT seem to want to support the 32 million road users in the UK. What other conclusion can we come to? They do not seem to want to support cutting Fuel Duty and are not willing to answer the questions posed in this open letter to the Party that was distributed at their Conference (pictured left). Remember carefully, if they were now in power pump prices would be in excess of £1.60p per litre.
In the 4 years of campaigning, we have tried to get in front of Ed Balls and Ed Miliband to discuss FairFuelUK objectives and what the Labour Party’s policies are for the 32 million road users who pay 42bn in tax each year to the Exchequer. Despite repeated invitations even via supporting Campaign Labour MPs, such as Stoke's Robert Flello, they have not had the decency to see us or even reply to messages we have sent to them.
The FairFuelUK Campaign will continue to lobby Labour MPs to try and convince the Party elite to reconsider their position of using lower Fuel Duty instead as a growth stimulus and not their traditional cash cow of canning motorists. Many MPs in the Party have indeed supported FairFuelUK in the past, so we are optimistic of a change in direction.. Let's hope so...
The Next Conference is the Tory Party's in Birmingham. See our next blog on that one. We will report fully and honestly....
In the meantime please purchase a Campaign Sticker, so we can for example afford to attend these conferences and continue campaigning for better and fairer pump prices on your behalf. Thanks for your continued support, FairFuelUK