Last year when SSE put their prices up and all the other energy firms followed suit, I wrote that the only way to make energy bills affordable was to nationalise the industry.
Today (10/10/13) SSE have upped their prices again and in the next few weeks all the other energy companies will follow suit. The arguments I’ve made before haven’t changed because the facts haven’t changed, so I’m not going to dwell on that for too long. Here’s a quick run down of what’s been said:
SSE claim that increases in the cost of energy on the wholesale market, transportation, government levies etc have forced them to increase their prices. This is true. The Tories are claiming that they, alongside industry regulator OFGEM, have made changes to make bills clearer and make price comparison easier. This is also true. Labour state that the cost of energy has increased by £300 since 2010 and looks to increase further. Again, true.
So, now time for some falsehoods. The Tories point to increased competition as the best way to keep energy costs down. Not likely, as increases in competition have gone side-by-side with price increases over the last decade or so. I’m not saying their linked, just that it hasn’t stopped increases happening. Speaking to members of UNISON Energy at the trade union’s conference this year, Caroline Flint, shadow minister for Energy, stated that it was a lack of regulatory power which allowed prices to increase. Again, not the case; the energy industry is heavily regulated and if there is much more regulation in place the market as a whole would fail to function properly.
The problem is that this essential service is run with the primary goal of making money. When companies have to make profits they will not absorb increased costs in wholesale energy, or drop their prices when their outgoings fall. That’s not good business.
By nationalising the energy industry and taking the power away from big business, a government could employ elected technocrats to run the service as efficiently and effectively as possible. Similarly this approach would centralise resources and add a greater level of transparency, ensuring that consumers’ money was going towards their actual energy usge instead of yachts and flash cars and shit.
I’ve already banged this drum enough, you know what I think and why. I want to strike a different note here.
When doing some research for this article I came across a video of yesterdays (9/10/13) PMQs in which Cameron and Miliband went toe-to-toe over the rising cost of energy. What I saw disgusted and disheartened me. Watching two grown men squabbling like 5 year olds in the playground reinforced the reason I became so disenfranchised with politics. These two wankers are more interested in point scoring than discussing a serious issue which affects every person in this country and kills thousands every year.
When the 5 minute video ended all I could thiink was “we’re all fucked.” Neither of these “leaders” has a clue what to do about the energy issue, just as they don’t know what to do about rises in the cost of living or falling standards in the NHS. The fact that one of them will be running this country through the end of this decade fills me with dread for my friends and family.
Incidentally, I don’t think that neither Cameron nor Milliband has a clue because they’re not arguing for what I want, I expect that. My concern is born out of the uninformed, unimaginative policies that two of the most powerful people in this country have for something that is basic to a decent standard of living.
Oh, yeah, I forgot to tear down the energy price freeze thing. So, Miliband wants to force energy companies to freeze their prices for 20 months if he’s elected in 2015. What a bunch of bullshit. He wouldn’t have the power to do that, and if he did it would end very badly. I’m a big fan of forcing energy companies to do shit they don’t want to, but this is a terrible idea. Quite simply, energy prices would skyrocket as Miiliband comes to power, energy companies would withdraw from the UK market, thousands of jobs would be lost, hundreds of thousands would get into debt, investment in infrastructure would cease completely and in 2018-2020 we’d have a supply shortage which would force the cost of fuel up more as energy companies were forced to buy increasing amounts from the international market. You suck, Ed.
Also, just because I can’t resist, it made me laugh when Cameron said that Miliband wished for a “Marxist universe” in which “government could control international energy markets”. In a Marxist universe there ARE NO MARKETS. Dick. I understand the irony of attacking politicians for being childish and misinformed with alot of sweary cheapshots, but I’m not an elected official so I’m allowed to.
To recap, then. We’re all doomed. Mainstream parties have no answer for the rising cost of energy and seem uninterested in taking meaningful and productive steps towards resolving the issue. Energy companies will continue to increase their prices because their costs are going to increase. You can’t expect them to do anything else, they’re private businesses, not social enterprises.
Behind all the grandstanding and headlines, the slimmer household budgets and rising death toll, we have massive multi-billion pound companies who are doing what they’re made to do: exploit a broken system. This is the same in any industry that you look at and nothing is going to change until we take back control of the things that we rely on.
I’m off to put the heating on now, while I can still afford it.