Fighting for FairFuel?

"Political ping pong" was how FairFuelUK (FFUK) co-founder Howard Cox summed up the news this week that fuel duty would likely be frozen for the rest of this parliament.

Cox was in little doubt that given Labour's headline grabbing pledge at their own party conference to cut utility bills, this was the Conservative's riposte.

Either way, the hard-pressed road transport industry will accept whatever populist promise is made if it means a saving at the pumps.

However, it's clear that this is also an attempt by the Conservatives/Coalition to park an explosive issue until after the next general election, which could be as late as May 2015.

"We certainly can't afford to be complacent," Cox told the Hub. FFUK is therefore currently preparing a newsletter outlining the impact the high cost of duty has had on the public and hauliers alike, drawn from the feedback of its 370,000 campaign signatories.

It is also updating its own research - conducted by CEBR and NIESR - that pushes the economic case for a cut in duty. This is ahead of the Autumn Statement, in a bid to counter the view in some political quarters that the green shoots evident in the UK economy mean no further action is required.

Where next?

One action that seems to be fading into he background, is the prospect of an essential user rebate for operators.

Speaking to reporter Hayley Pink at the Conservative Conference in Manchester, FTA chief executive Theo de Penicer, said: "I think politicians tend to say 'if we do it for you guys' then we're going to have to do it for the district nurse and a whole raft of other occupations that in the mind of the public would be deemed essential users.

"It tends to fall into the 'too difficult' box from a political point of view, no matter how attractive it may be to us

"[While], it does happen in other countries generally as a result of vigorous lobbying there... I don't think it's something most other countries have done without their governments having their arms twisted pretty heavily."

So another battle won but a war of attrition to fight. Here's something to galvanise wills ahead of the remaining slog: FFUK calculates that it will have saved all of us £30bn in aborted duty rises since it came into being if Osborne is good to his latest word.

Surely more of that is something worth fighting for.