Thursday 26th September
At last, Labour and Ed Milliband have woken up and given us some real policies. And the Right Wing press are furious, spitting feathers even. The simple notion that energy companies should be required to hold their prices for 20 months is seen as outrageous. Visions of bankruptcy, and ludicrously – power cuts, were cited last night in the wake of Ed’s speech. But in truth it isn’t even that radical at all. These companies all used to be owned by us, the public, and were run (mostly) for our benefit. As soon as they fell into private hands the prices started rising inexorably. Company after company has been reporting massive profits. Now, the argument is, from the companies view, that prices of gas are volatile, that no-one can predict how high they might go during that 20 month period. True, all too true. And in the recent past those prices have also gone up and down, as does the price of raw petrol. But unlike fuel at the pumps which does rise and fall with supply and demand, the cost of the fuel coming out of your gas pipe, or the electricity coming out of the socket in the wall goes only one way. Up.
These companies have made huge profits by essentially not dropping their prices when the cost of the raw fuel falls. At our expense. All of us, households and businesses have been held ransom by what is almost a cartel. Even the Tories understand this, but were unprepared to really tackle it. Vague promises that everyone would be on the cheapest tariff (means actually that everyone would be on the same tariff); and since Cameron’s announcement we have seen no action. Like the decision to renegotiate on Europe, or to decide on a new Airport capacity, they have been kicked into the long grass.
All I can say is that the level of vituperation exhibited by the Tory press shows they are really worried.