In contrast to the government's passivity during the fuel tax protests of 2000 instigated by numerous road transport companies and some farmers, in effect a politically motivated strike by a section of the capitalist class, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the Government stood "ready to act" if members of the Unite union walk out. A tiny group of small businessmen and some farmers who, without ballots and for the most part acting unlawfully, decided to try and hold the government to ransom. David Cameron, gave them his support. During the protests the oil companies were accused of collusion with the protesters. The TGWU subsequently called for a public inquiry into reports of drivers who had been willing to deliver fuel being told not to. The fuel protestors were not acting in the interests of the majority of Britons as they claimed, but in their own narrow economic and political interests. The police did not immediately move against the fuel tax blockaders (who were guilty of secondary picketing, obstruction, a variety of road traffic offences, and intimidation) until ordered to do so by the government, in sharp distinction to disputes like Grunwick, Wapping, and the Miners' Strike. A few hundred small businessmen were allowed to act with impunity in that dispute until Blair was forced to act to get the petrol tankers rolling again as the effects on the economy and other capitalists interests were beginning to be felt. The London Chamber of Commerce reported that the protests cost businesses £250 million a day. After the protests had ended the Institute of Directors estimated the cost to UK businesses at £1billion.
Contrast now the response of the government when members of the working class wish to exercise their legal right to conduct democratically decided industrial action. The ConDem alliance is ready to mobilise the troops and use them to break a possible strike by petrol tanker drivers. The army are placed on stand-by to ensure fuel deliveries continue. .