First Person - with Fiona Purnell

Fiona Purnell, Fife Free Press
Fiona Purnell, Fife Free Press

Is common sense a thing of the past these days?

Has the country gone completely mad?

I was left completely bewildered last week after seeing the images of drivers queuing at petrol stations across the country.

A union announced tanker drivers had voted to strike over working conditions and pay.

Next thing politicians - namely David Cameron and Francis Maude - make thoughtless comments (or were they?) telling people they should make sure their petrol tanks are topped up.

Cameron claimed he didn’t want panic then told drivers to ‘top up’.

Maude also said there was no need to panic but people needed to be aware there was a risk to fuel supplies and advised families to store petrol in jerrycans in the garage - a suggestion which left the Fire Brigades Union horrified.


Cue lengthy queues at petrol stations as people began panic buying. All that happened was the pumps were drained before we even had a strike!

This seems to have been the point any common sense went out the window and as humans we proved the point that we are all sheep, just in different clothing.

It’s a ripple effect - the minority start buying then everyone else seems them doing it and thinks ‘oh I’d better do the same’ and so the ripples spread right across the pool.

If people hadn’t listened to the threats and the hype issued by the government and relayed by the national media, then they wouldn’t have had to waste time on beautiful sunny days sitting in their cars trying to fill up with fuel.

If everyone had continued to fill up as they would normally, - ie. when the tank was low and needed filled - then the panic could have been avoided and pumps would not have run dry.

Even if there is a strike and people just behave as they would any other day then I’m sure things wouldn’t be as bad as all this panic buying madness.

It would mean all those who actually needed fuel would get some.

Although after all the fuss last Wednesday and Thursday, the funniest thing about it is the fact the Unite union said the workers would not be striking over Easter.

Panic over and a waste of time.

Life without petrol

So, I ask you, does this mean if the talks they are having this week are unsuccessful and the matter cannot be resolved we’ll have to endure all this ridiculous panic buying by the British public once again?

Come on people, let’s get a grip.

If/when the drivers decide to strike let’s all think before we act and cut out this panicky attitude.

The strike is not going to be never ending and if we all put our minds to it and stopped being lazy and relying on our cars then even if there was a shortage on the forecourts we’d still be able to get on with our lives without petrol.

The important thing would be ensuring the emergency services had access to fuel.

It didn’t take long for the fear of a fuel shortage to spread after the policitians said what they did.

Given the amount of tax the government gains from petrol these days due to its extortionate prices, it’s no wonder some people are sceptical now as to whether the whole thing was just careless or whether it had been planned all along.

I’ll leave the decision on that one for you to decide.

But I’ll end with a simple message for all those panic buyers out there in the words of Lance Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army “Don’t Panic!”