WITH the petrol crisis now as good as over, numerous inquests have been held, aimed as absolving the government from blame as it gets the fright of its life in the ensuing opinion polls -- actually trailing the Tories in one of them for the first time in eight years.

It is interesting how bolshie minorities are accused of creating the mess -- particularly as it's calculated that just 2,500 protesters blockading the refineries and fuel depots were responsible for almost bringing a country of more than 50 million to a grinding half in only a few days.

So we have wailing farmers, truculent self-employed truckers and stroppy taxi drivers, believing they are owed a living, supposedly doing all this for their selfish sakes, not for the rest of us.

It's the sort of summary that Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale health watchdog Councillor Frank Clifford resorted to in saying that on fuel costs the government was right -- and, for good measure, roped the bloodsports supporters of the Countryside Alliance into the protest plot.

Actually, he could well be right-- in that this direct action was the work of a self-interested few. And if he cared to also implicate the greedy oil companies, bent on reaping profits, he would not be far off the mark either. But if he and the government view this protest as undemocratic -- they are way off the mark. It only succeeded because it was propped up by overwhelming public sympathy and anger at the fuel price rip-off.

We are still paying through the nozzle because of the 75 per cent tax on fuel. There's a limit to what people will tolerate -- not just because of the burden on their pocket or businesses, be they farms or haulage, but in plain and simple fairness. That's why this was a protest by and for the majority -- and the Government would be fools to ignore that.