More than one in three people in the UK believe the UK Government is primarily responsible for high fuel prices, a new poll has shown.
The nationwide poll, conducted by ICM Research for BBC One’s Panorama, looked at how motorists have changed their habits in recent months and how the cost of fuel and car taxes will affect how they vote.
It found that 38% laid most of the blame for high prices at the government’s door.
The survey also suggests that over a third of people (35%) in the UK are more likely to vote for a political party which promises to lower car and fuel taxes.
Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association, said motoring is becoming more of a political issue. “If there are 32million motorists out there, that’s a substantial proportion of the electorate and they could make a real difference in an election.”
Prime Minister Gordon Brown was accused of playing politics with pump prices earlier this month when he scrapped a 2p rise in fuel duty due in autumn.
The move followed months of pressure on ministers amid soaring oil prices.
Angela Eagle, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “You have to get the balance right. If there’s a sudden price spike in oil that is causing real hardship to businesses, families and individuals in the country, then we have a duty as a government to make sure that we can do something about that in the short-term. But we don’t lose sight of our medium to long-term goals, which are to re-engineer the way our economy works in order to reduce our carbon footprint, and that is what we are doing.”
About 22% of respondents believed oil-producing countries were primarily responsible for high fuel prices, while 20% blamed oil companies and 11% blamed stock market traders.
The Panorama programme Can We Afford to Fill Up? will air on BBC1 tonight at 8.30.
The documentary suggests the Shetland Islands are a stark picture of where the rest of the country could be in a few months’ time, with petrol and diesel prices more than 10p a litre higher there.
It indicates that livelihoods and a whole way of life are under threat.
Shetland resident Eleanor Arthur, whose family has crofted in the area for generations, said she could no longer afford to run her Land Rover to tend livestock or get to work on a neighbouring island by car and ferry.
Her commute now costs more each month than her mortgage and she faces the prospect of giving up the croft and moving with her husband and two young sons to the Shetland mainland.
She told the programme: “It’s desperate. I mean nobody wants to leave what we have here. Sacrifices, not changes, will have to made.”
The ICM survey suggests that 31% of motorists are driving less now than three months ago, 60% are walking more, and the cost of vehicle tax and fuel efficiency are important factors for 80% and 89% when buying a new car.