Wednesday, 28 March 2012

reports of panic-buying- a self-fulfilling prophesy?

This week the UK trade union Unite announced its intention for strike action by fuel tanker drivers over pay and conditions. Today (28/3/2012), the BBC is reporting hurried meetings in the Cabinet Office to discuss public fears that we could see a re-run of the 2000 fuel crisis where the pumps ran dry. The Cabinet Secretary Francis Maude is reported as saying that people should fill up Jerry cans of petrol  to avoid running out, and reports of 'panic-buying' are starting to happen (

This seems to be the beginning of a depressing re-run of the 2000 fuel crisis, with renewed fears of petrol stations running dry, but the irony this time being that there are currently no blockades of oil refineries (as there were in 2000), and while I am writing this strike dates have not even been announced! What caused the pumps to run dry in 2000 was not the blockades themselves, but the fact that people feared a shortage, and then all went to fill up their tanks, which the stocks could not cope with, as they don't anticipate everyone having a full tank at the same time. If the media reports panic buying is reported, then a self-fulfilling prophesy can develop, which is what then causes fuel shortages- not any industrial action. See my previous blog entry which looked at possible psychological explanations for this phenomeon, and how I think the media have a responsibility to be more considered in their reporting of such matters

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