May 29th, 2008
02:16 PM GMT
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LONDON, England – There was something different about this protest. It just wasn't what I expected from a bunch of truckers gathering in central London to protest the high cost of diesel.

It began in much the way I thought it would: truckers honking their horns, waving placards, holding banners that said, "OUT BROWN." It looked like any other rally, any one of the colourful protests you frankly, see quite often on the streets of London.

Sharon Knight delivers her emotional speech.
Sharon Knight delivers her emotional speech.

Then the speeches began. I leaned in to listen. Not because of what was being said (diesel prices are too high, the government is no good, our industry is being wiped out etc etc) but because of who was at the podium, and the passion with which she spoke.

Yes, she.

I admit my surprise at seeing a lady in black patent leather stilettos lead the speeches at a truckers protest. I was even more surprised when Sharon Knight, part of a family run trucking business, couldn't hold back her tears.

Diesel in the UK now costs up to $2.60 a litre. Guess what that translates into across the Atlantic? Roughly $9 a gallon! Almost half of that cost is tax imposed by the British government. Truckers are paying around 35 percent more to fill up their vehicles diesel from last year, forcing many to shut shop.

Sharon was one of the people who took a letter to Downing Street, calling on the government to help. Of course Prime Minister Gordon Brown can't bring down the global price of oil, but what he can do, say the truckers, is cut taxes on fuel.

It's getting late, Sharon told us. If the government doesn't step in soon, many transport and haulage companies will be out of business. They'll lose their incomes and a way of life. The only way of life many of them know. It's easy to understand why Sharon couldn't hold back her tears.

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soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Ben

    "Diesel in the UK now costs up to $2.60 a litre. Guess what that translates into across the Atlantic? Roughly $9 a gallon! "

    I suppose the author ment to say "Diesel in the US..."

    May 30, 2008 at 1:42 pm |
  2. Razvan

    The author meant "UK" – it's about a truckers' protest in London.

    May 30, 2008 at 7:01 pm |
  3. Mike from Ottawa

    take the average wage in America compared to other parts of the world and gas prices from around the world....guess what America your still paying less than everyone else...So shut up and quit whining , wanna drive one person in a SUV on your 50 mile commute from the suburbs you pay the price. The non-stop whining on your media over this just shows what a bunch of spoiled whiners reside below the 49th paralell

    June 1, 2008 at 3:45 am |
  4. kam

    Taxes are important and should not be reduced atall if you need to maintain exsiting road infrastructure and develop new ones. Conservation (driving less), increasing efficiency (tell you election representative) and using alternatives (ethanol , biodeisel) can reduce americas consumption to less than 20 % from present levels and can significantly bring down oil price withn 5 yrs. In the mean time legislation to make plugin hybrids and eletric cars atleast 50 % of the all the new cars in another 10 yrs will make fuel cost less than 50 cents for a barrel of oil. Act on it now.

    June 1, 2008 at 7:48 am |
  5. Peter

    The truck drivers have a point, and yes, their very livelihood is under threat, and British fuel taxes are simply too high. However, maybe the time has come to rethink how goods could be transported in a more environmentally sustainable and energy efficient way. Much of what is carried up and down the U.K. (and the EU as a whole) could probably go by rail, with smaller trucks for local distribution. It does not make any sense whatsoever having 40-ton diesel guzzlers being driven over hundreds of miles, with adverse effects on air quality and roads deforming rapidly under the sheer weight of these huge vehicles.

    The fact is that if the truckers go out of business, other businesses managed according to the “just on time” principle ( a majority) will follow suit fairly quickly. It is time for Mr. Brown to reduce his greedy appetite on fuel taxes to avoid a potentially harmful multiplier effect – at least until the current oil crisis subsides, or to allow for alternative transport solutions to be implemented.

    June 2, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  6. Andina

    Prices of any resources will never'll only increase, why?simple. resources are limited and our wants are unlimited...and cutting down on taxation, we all know that that wouldn't happen...governments love taxes, on top of that, don't we need taxation in order our infrastructure can improve and our money flow within the country can be stabilized....

    To make our world a better place is actually easy...but to get every single person on this planet to make it better is almost impossible...

    June 3, 2008 at 11:38 am |
  7. Mark, France

    In France, diesel costs about 1.50 euros a liter. That's 6 euros a gallon, or about 9 or 10 dollars. More than 80 percent of that goes to taxes, according to a report I saw recently, which is odd because all the fuel sold in France comes from France's state-owned oil refineries, so the government essentially gets 100 percent of what we pay at the pumps. We don't really know where the money goes. Occasionally some oil exec's mistress gets angry and claims collecting millions, but the rest of the money ... Lord knows. The government also charges us 160 euros a year for public television, and it's a crime, of course, not to pay this poll tax. But most public television shows are vanity information programs. In other words, people make shows about their personal interests or talk show to which they invite only their friends, and the shows are invariably boring. If it weren't for Spanish soap operas and American mystery shows from the '70s, there'd be little worth watching on public TV except the weather reports .

    June 3, 2008 at 2:07 pm |
  8. bill, usa

    So here it is in a nut shell. Yes I understand that between 70 – 80% of the fuel cost in the EU is tax. Guess what it is here in the US. try 11%. So you tell us to stop whining, guess what we are paying more per unit than you are if you take the current taxes out for everyone.
    Who's getting scamed? The whole world is because of those damn speculaters driving up the cost.

    June 3, 2008 at 10:59 pm |
  9. Gbenga Ajayi

    I think that the effect of taxes should not be overstated. But however, the government should also review its tax policies, what would happen though if and when oil prices ease? Diesel is also up about 40% in Nigeria, world's sixth largest oil producer!!

    June 3, 2008 at 11:10 pm |
  10. Borg Carmelo

    I live in Malta and as a maltese citizen I am fully aware about the recession reaching upon my homeland. The exagerating fuel prices are going to jamm the whole world. Something must be done to control the situation. If there are other sources to substitute for fuel oil why these aren't introduced so as not to spoil the world's economy.
    Thank you very much for giving me space to write.

    June 8, 2008 at 11:05 am |
  11. Bob - Spain

    Yes, in some countries fuel taxes are higher than others but we've all lived with them for many years and all seem to like the roadways and services provided. To suggest that these could be reduced by the governments to the benefit of the public either short or long term is silly. If they were to be reduced the oil companies would raise prices in two weeks to compensate for the reduction and we'd be back where we are today.

    I don't know if anyone has seen the quarterly profit results of Exxon- Mobil or any other oil company for the last few years but it doesn't take a very smart person to realize where the high price at the pump comes from. I say tax them on these profits to subsidise public transportation and alternative energy research.

    The only long term solution to this problem is reduced consumption, higher effiency and alternate energy. Not bio fuels but sun and wind! Anyone who thinks that this is not the solution has their head in the same sand dune as George Bush and maybe some reporters from CNN.

    Everything in the modern world moves by trucks so when fuel prices are higher the material costs are also higher. The major economic problems we're having today are caused by the untaxed greed of the oil companies. Exploration isn't the answer either, reduced consumption is.

    June 10, 2008 at 8:29 pm |
  12. Thomas

    I think that we desperately need valid education of what the cost of fuel means to us. It is one thing to see the rising cost per barrel, but that doesn't necessarily translate into higher petrol costs. There are many taxes applied, the majority of which pay for the extraction and refining of the gas. However, in state-run areas, it also funds transportation departments. How much is profit in your country? What could the goverment eliminate without hurting too much? These questions need answers before we all rush to strike.
    Also, the americans complain the loudest, but they have also been the hardest hit. Historically the prices in america have been one-third that of here in europe. Now we're almost even. Imagine if we suffered a similar rise in prices. We'd be doing more than compain.

    June 11, 2008 at 6:12 am |
  13. Ireland Resident

    I've read most of the comments left and one thing that most forget is that some countries, such as Ireland, does not have a good public transport system for most of the country so many are forced to drive to work if they intend on keeping their jobs. The tax on petrol and diesel is more than 50% but how is that money being utilized? It sure isn't on public transport??

    Also, the comment of using other forms of fuel, to use these fuels cars need to be converted which costs thousands, inflation is high in Europe and jobs are being lost left and right because companies are pulling out of Ireland as it is in other European companies, so how may I ask do you expect people to afford to convert their cars?

    Before throughing comments out there perhaps consider that situations are different given the different countries and some have no other choice but to rely on their cars and on Diesel because if they do not then how can they maintain their jobs, feeding their families, and keeping a roof over their heads?!!

    June 17, 2008 at 1:27 pm |

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