THERE is no fuel shortage, and nor was there one two or three weeks ago.

We know this to be the case, because Nadine Dorries has said so.

And not once, but twice, in quick Twittery succession, the second time in SHOUTY MODE!!

Ms Dorries was apparently promoted from a celebrity to be got out of somewhere, to her present lofty position, on account of her excellent communication skills. One might have thought, therefore, that she’d have used her 280 characters to approximate better to the truth.

This would have done:

  • There is no shortage of fuel in the refineries.
  • There is a shortage of drivers to get it to the forecourts.
  • Don’t embarrass me by asking why. I’m ambitious.
  • Don’t ask me what we’re doing about it. Culture’s my thing.
  • And definitely don’t mention the B-word. You voted for it.

The Isle of Wight is particularly susceptible to supply-chain stresses. In the case of petrol, once one filling station falls over, the rest follow in short order, and there’s not the option to drive miles and miles to find it. How the flares of Fawley seemed to mock us.

(Big shout-out, by the way, to Newport Sainsbury’s filling station, where they didn’t wait to be told before closing early on about day two of the crisis to reserve fuel for the Island’s ambulance fleet).

It has, of course, happened before, in 2000 and 2012, for very different reasons. And that’s before we get back to the Suez crisis of 1956, when rationing came back and pump prices rose from 2s 8d to 4s 2d overnight.

So stockpiling and “panic buying” (it may be selfish, but panic’s not the right word) is the well-documented consequence of shortages, real or perceived.

You’d have thought the government’s batteries of behavioural scientists, flush from their success in predicting the effects of relaxing Covid rules, could have taken half a day to remind politicians who appeal to people’s better nature what a futile exercise that is.

Or just maybe it’s more simple than that — a cynical attempt to deflect blame away from themselves for allowing things to deteriorate to the point where selfishness takes over.

But who to blame? Of course, those well-known fifth columnists of the Road Haulage Association.

Ms Dorries’ Cabinet colleague Grant Shapps finds the RHA “entirely responsible for this panic and chaos” for allegedly leaking details of a Cabinet Office meeting in mid-September.

(Fact check: the RHA raised the alarm over “catastrophic” driver shortages in June. Nothing was done. What would your next step have been if you’d been in their shoes?)

So into winter we plunge, having progressed from the just-in-time economy to the too-bloomin'-late one in one effortless bound, with Christmas goodies and an apparently random assortment of essentials hard or impossible to find.

Problems with our gas supply are also entirely possible.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that somewhere, probably deep in a bunker below Downing Street, there will be an inexhaustible supply of the stuff reserved for use by the Department of Political Gaslighting, whose mission it is to cause us to doubt our memories of what actually led up to all this.