IF IT wasn't for his decidedly civilian demeanour - the big belly and the baggy trousers - you might take Duncan McCracken for an army general, surrounded by his aides-de-camp as he monitors the progress of a campaign from the safety of company headquarters. Above his head, on the wall, a vast satellite screen shows the deployment of his vehicles. At Greenock, one is marked by a red rectangle, while to the east in Bonnybridge there are three green shapes edging down a single street. Further south on this electronic map, many more trucks are visible, scattered along the highways of the north of England. Duncan moves his cursor over a green mark which shows a driver heading for Winsford in Cheshire.
"If you hover over Lawrence, you can see his speed," he announces, rapping out a series of statistics. "Fifty mph. He's done 576 miles in two days. Only 62 miles have been without a load. Not bad."
Comparisons with military operations are not out of place here. Sandy McCracken and Son may be just another "typical Scottish hauler", with Duncan as its operations director, but like many in the road transport industry, its troops see themselves engaged in a battle. Their objective? To persuade an unyielding government to reduce the duty on fuel as costs soar and to impose a pricing formula that will enable hauliers to survive. Passions are running high.
Reportage from the frontline on the UK's fuel dispute, from the Sunday Herald. For the bigger picture go to: