Alastair Stewart: Thank God we’ve got a professional army but I really doubt it needed to come to this.

Alastair Stewart
Alastair Stewart

'Now is the time to get fuel in tanks and then plan a better tomorrow ahead of the next, inevitable crisis'

Published

Who’d have thought an empty petrol tank would prompt a profound re-think of our how our economy works - or doesn’t - of the relationship between Government and industry, and of the education of consumers?

Well the fuel shortage and HGV crisis has.

Of course there is no fuel shortage.

The fuel is just isn't the wrong place and there aren’t enough of the right people - drivers - to get it to the right people - petrol stations and us!

Those that know say they’ve been aware of an impending, international shortage of HGV drivers for ages.

Industry did little or nothing to retain drivers, tempt them back with better wages or push for better working conditions in motorway service stations and elsewhere. Their bad.

The Government did little or nothing, too, over the long term.

In the short-term they argued and disagreed over visas, then the penny dropped.

They then saw the light on wages.

One wonders, too, how far anyone thought about asking the drivers - working and resting - what they thought and what they wanted.

It seems obvious, now, that all post-Brexit rules should be reviewed: EU ones dropped, UK ones reformed, even eased where safe.

The Education Department should push hard to make lorry driving a respected trade and push harder for apprenticeships & other technical qualifications.

The training industry needs support, too.

The Transport Department needs urgent talks with the ones of Motorway service stations to improve the offer to truckers - loos, showers, eateries and so on.

We all need it - and it is their job to crack it.

I’m all for the great debate about the nature or the state, and Government’s relationship with commerce and industry.

It's profound, Tory Vs Labour Vs LiDems.

That is urgent, too.

I think the state is too big, tax payers shouldn’t subsidise low wages nor bailout bankrupt industries.

But we also need a Government that has a strategic view of the future with its responsibility for infrastructure, education, training and the rest.

Thank God we’ve got a professional army but I really doubt it needed to come to this.

As many noble commentators have observed - now is the time to get fuel in tanks and then plan a better tomorrow ahead of the next, inevitable crisis.