Tag Archives: energy

The UK supports public ownership of utilities. Why do none of our politicians agree?

Privatisation of public services and utilities has failed dismally. Why do both the Conservatives and the Labour Party under Keir Starmer support it?

Why are they determined to ram it down our throats?

We all know the problems with privatisation:

And we all know the tricks our politicians use to support privatisation:

So we all know that privatisation doesn’t work as a way of providing water, energy, healthcare, rail and bus services and the mail.

And when I say all of us, the polling is conclusive:

Here’s the problem:

At the next general election, neither of the main UK political parties are going to offer public ownership to the people.

You will not be allowed the chance to vote for it.

Don’t you think that’s, well… wrong?

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Your politicians should be seeking election on platforms that have public support, shouldn’t they?

They should have consulted with the electorate and they should be putting forward policies that we feel we can get behind – shouldn’t they?

Has any politician asked you if you support public ownership?

Have any of them asked if you support privatisation?

I’m guessing the answer is no.

Then, why on Earth would you vote for any of them? If they’re not offering what you want – and they very clearly aren’t – you need to find someone else.


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Cold, damp homes skyrocket estimates of excess deaths

How to heat? For many pensioners this winter, the fire may not be an option and the only heat they are likely to get may be from a cup of tea – even after temperatures plummeted to -14C this week.

An “appalling and avoidable” increase in excess death estimates is due to cold, damp homes, according to a new report:

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has predicted from the latest government data that 4,950 excess winter deaths in the UK were caused by living in cold, damp homes during winter 2022/23, an increase of 1,721 people compared to estimates from last year.

The latest figures from the Warm This Winter campaign also show that 8.3m adults in the UK are living in cold, damp homes.

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Energy bills have soared in recent years following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and with Ofgem’s energy price cap for January to March 2024 set at £1,928 a year – significantly higher than what it was in October 2021 at at £1,277 ,before the energy crisis began.

Exclusive polling for PoliticsHome in November by Savanta found 32 per cent of people were “very concerned” about whether they would be able to afford they energy bills this winter, with 44 per cent reporting they were “somewhat concerned”. Only 17 per cent said they were “not really concerned”, with just 5 per cent saying they were “not concerned at all”.

Labour is saying this is an indication that people should vote for that party, which is promising a scheme to insulate homes if it forms a government.

The trouble is, under Keir Starmer, Labour has promised a lot of things only to u-turn on them as soon as it is convenient.

Nobody seems to be talking about reducing the price of heating homes – by getting rid of our reliance on fossil fuels altogether and investing in cheap and clean energy.

Is that because it will cut profits for the fossil fuel magnates who pay big donations to politicians in all the major parties?

Source: Labour Says Spike In Cold Deaths Underlines Urgency Of Home Insulation Scheme


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Social energy tariff plan quietly scrapped

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Plans to launch an energy social tariff which would help low income households with energy costs have reportedly been “quietly shelved” by the Government.

The Tory Government first pledged to consider energy social tariffs – which are cheaper tariffs for certain groups – in 2022, and this was doubled down on by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Energy Secretary Grant Schapps last year.

However, Government sources have indicated that social tariffs are “no longer a priority” and that ministers were looking into other ways to help those struggling with energy costs.

The move comes despite calls from charities, organisations and energy companies themselves calling for the introduction of a social tariff for energy. End Fuel Poverty Coalition co-ordinator Simon Francis said the decision to “abandon plans” for energy bill reform would be a “slap in the face to British households.

Well.

You didn’t really think the Tories would do anything to stop the privateers from fleecing us all, did you?


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Energy bills are increasing – and don’t believe the Tory lies about them

Energy prices are rising by around five per cent from January.

We’ll be paying more for this winter’s energy bills than ever before, even though the rates are cheaper than last winter.

This is because every household received £67 off their energy bill in state support last year and we’re not getting it again this time. The Conservative government seems to have forgotten this bit.

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We’ll be paying on average £28 per month more – between January and March next year – than we did this year.

Here’s Martin Lewis to explain it:


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For clarity: lawyer Keir Starmer ignored that the siege of Gaza is now a war crime

Keir Starmer: if he can’t – or won’t – recognise a war crime when one is described to him, how long will it be before he’s committing them himself?

He said Israel’s actions against Gaza should conform to international law, sure.

But former Director of Public Prosecutions – and therefore a lawyer himself – Sir Keir Starmer doesn’t seem to understand what international law requires in this instance.

It requires the protection of non-combatants, which means they must not be deprived of the necessities for survival – such as water.

So you can understand why Judy Hamilton, below, responded the way she did to Starmer’s comments in his interview with This Writer’s one-time sparring partner Nick Ferrari:

Let’s also have a reminder that the siege on Gaza, including the million children who constitute half of the population there, constitutes collective punishment and is an offence against the Geneva Convention:

As a potential world leader, Keir Starmer should be aware of international law – or at the very least, he should have been made aware of it before making himself look like a bloodthirsty potential war criminal.

Or is he aware of it, and he just doesn’t care? All things considered, this seems horrifyingly likely to This Writer.

ADDITIONAL: Now Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry has appeared on TV, refusing to answer whether she thinks Israel cutting off food, water and energy from Gaza is against international law:

She knows it is a war crime and she should have admitted it.

Shame on Victoria Derbyshire, as well (for a change), for not putting Thornberry straight.


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Is Israel committing war crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza?

Remember when this happened? It wasn’t long ago:

Bad move.

It’s a Geneva Convention law: nobody may be punished for an offence they have not personally committed and collective punishment is prohibited, as are pillages and the taking of hostages.

So: international law demands that civilians must not be harmed (certainly not deliberately).

This may come as a surprise to the European Union! And, indeed to this King’s Counsel, Jeremy Brier, who doesn’t seem to know the law as well as he should.

Also to the UK’s Foreign Secretary, who went on the record to say that he backs these war crimes that are clear violations of the Geneva Convention:

Sadly I must question whether the claim of an atrocity in a kibbutz near Gaza is an attempt to throw attention away from this.

I’m going to leave the last word – this time – to someone who experienced collective punishment as a person of Japanese ethnicity living in the United States during World War II, and went on to perform in a TV phenomenon that envisioned people of all colours, creeds and cultures living together in peace:

So to the question in the headline.

Not all people in Gaza are members of Hamas, and should not be punished for what Hamas has done. That much is clear, especially considering the fact that fully half of the population – a million people – are children.

But the Israeli government has declared that it is attacking everybody in Gaza indiscriminately, describing the population as “human animals”.

Is Israel committing war crimes, then?


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New game: name all the ways the Tory government INTERFERES with your life

Tory interference in our lives: anti-protest laws were rushed into practice before the Coronation, so the police could be used to arrest peaceful protesters and take them off the streets.

I seem to have started something.

Yesterday (September 21), in response to Rishi Sunak’s televised trashing of non-existent ‘Net Zero’ policies which he justified by saying, “We’re making sure government stays out of your life,” I made a couple of points about how government does exactly the opposite:

Look at your energy bill. In return for the payments you make, you receive energy that comes from a number of different sources, including some that are highly polluting. For example: coal, nuclear, gas.

On a separate but related subject, look at the amount of plastic packaging you buy in your everyday grocery shopping, much of which is unnecessary and can end up polluting the environment.

These things happen because the government allows it. Indeed, among Sunak’s measures yesterday was a plan to continue allowing the sale of polluting petrol- and diesel-powered cars for an extra five years, until 2035. Who knows what some future prime minister will do then? Extend it to 2040?

Those are three ways the government interferes with our lives, right there.

But of course, I was missing the really big things that have happened lately. Here’s Peter Stefanovic:

Perhaps we should open this up for everybody to have a say?

You could make a game of it at home: sit in a circle with everybody challenged in turn to name a way the government interferes with their life.

If you are so disposed, it could be a drinking game, with people failing to think of an example taking a sip of their substance of choice (it doesn’t have to be alcohol).

It’ll help pass these lengthening autumn evenings.

And it will help remind us all of what hideous liars the Tories in our government are.


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The human cost of high energy bills? Nearly 5,000 have died in damp, cold homes

Nearly 5,000 more people died in 2022-23 because their homes were damp and cold. That was the winter when energy bills skyrocketed.

While the energy firms made billions of pounds in profit, Rishi Sunak’s Tory government claimed to be doing all it could to ensure that ordinary people would not freeze.

It seems whatever Sunak did, it was not enough.

Here’s the Morning Star, which had the earliest report I’ve found so far:

Almost 5,000 people in Britain died last year as a result of living in cold and damp homes, an analysis of official data revealed today.

The figures, compiled by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition… calculated that of the 21,890 excess winter deaths in 2022-23, 21.5 per cent were caused by living in cold homes.

It comes as a report card by the Warm This Winter campaign on the government’s progress against its eight key measures to tackle the energy bills crisis, including providing financial support for those most in need, has revealed that on half of these, ministers are making no progress.

The report card found that on one measure, the government has taken backwards steps that will deepen the country’s reliance on expensive fossil fuels by failing to reduce Britain’s gas exports.

We all knew that we couldn’t rely on the Tories to protect vulnerable people against rampant corporate profiteering, and this is exemplary of what happens when they are asked to try.

Tories are rabid social Darwinists anyway; they probably think the deaths of your relatives and friends are a good thing for the country. But:

Every time you hear about energy firms’ profits, remember they are built on the deaths of 5,000 people.

Source: Nearly 5,000 people in Britain died last year due to damp and cold homes, analysis finds | Morning Star


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Why are the Tories trying to hide energy bill misery for those who use the least?

The hard fact for the poorest people: while headline energy costs are falling, the price for those who can least afford to pay is rising unaffordably.

Average energy bills will fall slightly in the three months from October – to £1,923 a year for the typical household, the regulator Ofgem has said

This is a drop of £151 on the current annual energy bill for a typical household, which is currently £2,074.

But there are complications!

The drop is in the price per unit of electricity and gas, and standing charges – that are charged daily regardless of energy use, are set to rise to recoup the costs associated with the wave of supplier failures, consumer defaults, and additional support to shore up energy companies’ finances.

This means people who use less energy – logically, poorer people – will end up paying more for it.

The Resolution Foundation has explained the situation in a press release here. I’ll pull out the important bits:

Any family with an energy consumption less than four-fifths of the average will see higher bills this winter than last, a situation that applies to around one-in-three (35 per cent) of households in England and close to half (47 per cent) of those in the lowest income decile.

For some, these extra costs will be substantial: 13 per cent of households (2.7 million families) face energy bills rising by more than £100 this winter, a figure that rises to one in four (24 per cent) for the poorest households.

The removal of the flat £400 Energy Bill Support scheme, which was paid out in monthly instalments over winter 2022 to all households, regardless of income or energy consumption, is in effect putting upward pressure on every household’s bill this winter.

Whether a household faces a lower bill this winter depends on whether the lower per-unit prices provide savings that outweigh the higher standing charges and removal of the £400 support.

The Resolution Foundation expects 7.2 million households will end up paying more, with 2.7 million spending more than £100 more on gas and electricity bills – including 24 per cent (almost a quarter) of those in the poorest 1/10 of families.

The Conservative government doesn’t care about this increased pressure on the poorest.

Here’s Tory mouthpiece Andrew Bowie (he’s an under-secretary for “Nuclear and Networks”, whatever that means), refusing to discuss the issue with the BBC’s Naga Munchetty and determinedly trying to force the subject back to the reduction in bills for the very richest people:

We may draw just one conclusion from this:

Conservative government energy policy is to make the poorest pay the most (as a proportion of their available funds). They are using energy bills to create poverty.


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Economists please note: high inflation may be A POLITICAL CHOICE

This is fine: the image above was originally about climate change but it may be applied equally well to Rishi Sunak’s attitude to the economy. Political policy in the UK for the past 40 years and more has been to impoverish you, together with all the poor people who voted for him and his ilk, thereby allowing it to happen.

All the Tory talk about getting inflation down seems to have confused some people who have failed to consider that high inflation may actually be Conservative government policy.

Look at the usually-excellent Simon Wren-Lewis’s latest Mainly Macro piece, in which he takes issue with left-wing opinions about his current diagnosis of the inflation problem.

He reckons the answer is for private sector wage rises to come down, probably by way of reducing economic demand which will lead to a reduction in the workforce – and, thereby, a recession. This opinion appears to be shared with the Bank of England, whose continual interest rate hikes seem to be an attempt to force the UK’s economy to go backwards.

The problem with that is simple: ordinary working- and even some middle-class people are struggling to make ends meet. Many simply can’t and are going into debt. His solution to the inflation problem will bake that inability to afford the cost of living into the UK economy.

With the Tory government lying to us that workers’ wages are the cause of high inflation and the Bank of England doing as described above, there seems to be only one logical conclusion to draw:

High inflation is a Conservative government policy. It is intended to drive the UK’s lower-paid citizens deep into poverty so you cannot afford the necessities of life.

Just roll that around your mind for a moment.

Think about the real causes of inflation: huge increases in the prices of energy and food, and huge increases in the salaries of FTSE100 executives.

The government could, in theory, neutralise these inflationary pressures through taxation – but the theory fails in practice: as Professor Wren-Lewis notes, the energy firms are multi-national corporations whose profits are received overseas, so there is nothing the government can do about them.

Looking back through history, we see that the reason overseas shareholders have been able to take control of our formerly-nationalised utility firms (energy isn’t the only subject area to have been treated this way, of course; water springs instantly to mind) is privatisation.

The answer should be re-nationalisation – but the Tory government (and also Keir Starmer’s STP – Substitute Tory Party) won’t countenance that; it is against their ideology. This indicates, again, that high inflation that drives you into poverty is a political choice. Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer want you to starve.

In the private sector, we see that the salaries of FTSE100 executives have risen by an average of 16 per cent in the last year alone, despite the fact that there has been no real growth in production in the last 15 years since the Great Recession. The money for their pay rise has to come from somewhere and the logical source is the pay packets of employees; they are taking the rises that should go to you.

That’s if they haven’t increased the prices of their goods or services, of course. If they have then they are still taking the rises that should go to you, while also increasing prices so you can’t afford what your employer sells.

The answer – the way to stop this irresponsible upward drain of corporate funds into executive bank accounts – is to tax executive pay at a rate high enough to make this practice unviable. Again, both Rishi Sunak’s Tories and Keir Starmer’s Tories have refused to do this so – again – we must conclude that the executive wage inflation that puts us all into poverty is a political choice.

Professor Wren-Lewis rightly points out that, where employees have won wage increases intended to match inflation caused mainly by high energy prices, their employers have put prices up; this indicates that shifting the real-terms wage cut onto the profits of other firms won’t work and just generates more inflation.

Professor Wren-Lewis goes on to discuss the reason real wages in the UK have not grown in the last 15 years. As already mentioned above, besides the energy and food price hikes, it is the fact that productivity growth has been extremely weak. There have also been two large devaluations of the Pound.

The low productivity – and one of the depreciations – were caused by Brexit. This is another political policy of the Conservative government that is also supported by Keir Starmer’s STP and may therefore be seen as further proof that the party of government (and that of Opposition) intends to impoverish you as a matter of policy.

Brexit also makes causing a recession more attractive to the government and the party that wants to form a government. Neither of them want inflation to continue running rampant forever; it would eventually wipe out the gains they have made for their very rich friends, so they’ll want to bring it down.

The way to do that, according to Prof Wren-Lewis, is to reduce the demand for goods produced by most firms, as this will lead to a reduced demand for labour; firms then lay off workers, meaning more people are seeking employment, meaning in turn that jobseekers will be more likely to accept a job that pays lower wages.

Before Brexit, politicians could always rely on an influx of cheap labour from Europe. That isn’t available now, so they consider recession to be the only alternative. Remember: their future is safe.

Demand is already coming down because people simply can’t afford to buy as much as they used to, due to the real-terms wage cuts they have suffered. The Bank of England’s interest rate rises are hammering that change home.

We may therefore conclude that recession, job losses, further deprivation and misery are all policy points of the Conservative government, and of Keir Starmer’s STP.

Professor Wren-Lewis ends his piece by quoting Bertrand Russell: “Ask yourself only what are the facts, and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe, or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed.”

Sadly, he fails to follow his own (and Russell’s) advice.

The truth that the facts bear out is that privatisation, executive pay rises, Brexit, austerity (the other driver of the Pound’s depreciation) and interest rate rises are all intended to push the majority of UK citizens into poverty.

Other solutions besides reducing demand by causing a recession and mass unemployment are available – but the low-quality politicians with whom we have accepted that Parliament should be filled are not interested in them; their only concern is filling their own bank accounts.

Our concern must now be to put a stop to this.


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