The news in tweets: Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Falling energy prices are not being passed on to customers and the government is doing nothing. Why?

Tory energy security minister Grant Shapps was grilled over the government’s failure to support cash-strapped households, by Martin Lewis on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. His answers were revealing:

So: we will receive no more money to help with energy bills, even though the energy companies are charging us far more than the cost of the energy itself. The government is supporting these firms as they rip us off.

Shapps’s comments about standing charges are also useful. He said these charges are for “all of the network costs, the maintenance costs and the things which happen before you get the live supply of energy to the household”. He said these costs were “not for nothing”.

This Writer certainly hopes that is true.

But let’s have a look at another privatised utility that forces you to pay standing charges: water. If standing charges on water are said to be for the same purpose as for energy – network costs, maintenance etc – then the water companies are guilty of fraud because we have learned that none of our money is being spent on infrastructure (maintenance). The pipe system still dates back to the Victorian era and some of it is made of lead, which is poison.

The water firms also borrow heavily to cover day-to-day costs. That leaves me asking what the standing charge supports. Is it just feeding into the profits of shareholders? If so, then these firms are lying to us about its purpose and should be prosecuted, forced to return that money to us and the charge abolished.

In fairness, I have read that the charge is for the cost of reading meters and sending out bills – but with smart meters installed that tell firms what you’ve used without anyone having to come to your home, and with the facility for people to receive bills by a new-fangled device called email, those costs now must be very low compared with times in even the recent past. Why are the standing charges not being reduced, then?

Taking the subject back to energy, if standing charges on water are a rip-off, how do we know that the energy firms aren’t also charging us far more than is reasonable?

Answer: we don’t.

One rule for them: MPs get up to £16,305 per year for up to three children, but restrict your child benefit to two kids and £2,080

Yes indeed.

Current salary for a backbench MP is around £84-5,000. They get expenses to pay for food, rent and bills (on the second homes they need in London, if I recall correctly), and they also receive £5,435 per year to pay bills related to their children, for a maximum of three children. That’s around £104.23 per week, per child, up to £312.69 – let’s round it up to £312.70.

If you have three children, you won’t receive any child benefit for one of them. You then get £24 per week for the eldest and £15.90 for the second child: £39.90 per week or around £2,080 per year.

Your MP thinks this is fair – even those in the Labour Party who should be demanding equality for everybody (possibly with a few exceptions).

This is why we need to think very carefully about who we allow into Parliament and what they should be elected to do.

Meanwhile, Substitute Tory (formerly Labour) Rachel Reeves can’t see how a UK government can fund free school meals for children who need them, so members of the public have been offering helpful suggestions:

Howard Beckett pointed out: “In Norway the sovereign fund stands at over $1.3trillion. Norway tax[es] fossil fuel Corporate giants at 78 per cent.”

She could also reverse some of the massive tax cuts that the Tories have handed to the richest members of UK society since 2010. There are plenty of ways to fund a better future.

One can only conclude that Pamela Fitzpatrick is right: “Reeves really cannot see where the moneys going to come from because she simply does not have the skills, talent or vision for the role she is in.”

There is a lighter side to this – if you have a certain sense of humour:

Keir Starmer was ‘consciously dishonest’ when he campaigned for the Labour leadership. Shouldn’t he be given the boot?

We may conclude from the information available to us that when Keir Starmer was telling Labour Party members that he would respect and continue the policies of his immediate forerunner Jeremy Corbyn, he was actually planning to throw away all the popular policies that Mr Corbyn had formed, as soon as possible.

He lied in order to be elected.

That is not acceptable.

He should be removed.

He won’t be – because Labour disciplinary procedures are a bad joke at the expense of rank-and-file party members. But voters should – and will – remember his betrayal, and the cynical, calculated way in which he planned it.

Defence spending rises by nearly one-third of what it was in 2019 – while all other spending falls. Why?

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced that the UK government will spend £50 billion on “defence”, for the first time in its history – more than £12 billion more than in 2019.

Jeremy Corbyn asked him about his priorities:

In response, Wallace said: “I am not out looking for war. We are all out here trying to defend our nation by avoiding war, but we do not avoid war by not investing in deterrence. Sometimes we have to invest in hard power, to complement soft power. We do not want to use it and we do not go looking for it. I know the right hon. Gentleman mixes with some people who always think this is about warmongering; it is not. But if countries are not taken seriously by their adversaries, that is one of the quickest ways to provoke a war.”

So he wants to avoid wars by rattling the sabre. This Writer isn’t sure that works – and I am encouraged to doubt him by his own prediction that the UK will be at war within seven years.

Mr Corbyn’s question was an opportunity for him to explain how his spending plan would prevent the UK from being at war within seven years. He did not answer that question.

What are these Tories planning to drag the rest of us into?

£500 million public money bribe to get Jaguar Land Rover owner to build electric car battery factory in Somerset

The Tory government is paying £500 million towards the creation of a £4 billion factory by Jaguar Land Rover owner Tata, building batteries for electric cars.

Is it really great news?

As migrant-housing barge arrives in Portland: how was the contract awarded and was it carried out corruptly?

Two tweets on this:

Is the illegal Tory “VIP lane” still operating, then?

Why is the government repeating consultation on wet wipe ban? Is it looking for a different response?

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  1. Karen peel July 19, 2023 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    I cannot support Kier starmer he is worse than the Tories . He as lied to get elected as leader of the Labour Party he also as u turned on all of his polices .
    He won’t do anything for the poorest of society like child benefit he will try to get rid of free school meals That’s one thing the Tories didn’t get away with they u turned on I think because of the publicity it brought?. So if people think voting Labour is going to help the lowest paid they need to listen to the man Take more notice I won’t be voting Labour because I may as well vote for the Conservative party (again I won’t be voting Conservative) Who I don’t know yet I’m sitting up and taking more notice and listening more to what’s being said ? I’ve always in the past voted Labour But not anymore unless they elect another leader someone that will listen to people someone that will be there for everyone is that possible?

  2. Iderspider July 20, 2023 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mike for this format it’s really useful for me and I imagine may others. Good Man!

    • Mike Sivier July 21, 2023 at 11:00 am - Reply

      I’m glad you like it. It occurred to me that putting out lots of separate stories about the little details of politics might be a waste of time if it meant I wasn’t able to discuss the bigger issues in a meaningful way – and I had not been able to write articles of that kind for some time. So the idea was to put all the daily news, so to speak, in one article and then just do one or two more each day, about whatever larger issues seemed relevant.

      It’s working okay so far.

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