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Friday, 28 March 2014

Miliband calling for price controls when he should be addressing the real problem.

 http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/27/ed-miliband-energy-price-controls-freeze-big-six


Ed Miliband to propose fresh energy price controls 

 

Miliband will tell the Federation of Small Businesses that he wants to create an open market economy where small businesses can grow and make bigger profits.




Ed Miliband.


 
The "policy" to control energy prices is popular amongst a large proportion of the public, (aka. voters). The only question is which, of the variants from each of the major parties solutions to achieve the same objective, will the voters select as their preferred option?
Each segment of the Coalition, Miliband's version of Labour, and soon no doubt to be joined by Farange and his UKIP, compete with each other to offer what they hope will be the most popular solution to solve the problem and "deal with the broken energy market" and finally end the energy companies cartel in the supply and distribution of energy in this country. Albeit, that strangely enough none of them officially at least, will admit to the existence of such a cartel. It is pure coincidence it seems that all the companies act in unison when announcing price increases all of which happen (at least) twice every year and are set at a rate within a few percentage points of each other. The hot air and rhetoric about "transparency", too many tariffs", "switch suppliers" etc is just that. Rhetoric to create a smokescreen of confusion and divert attention. The main political parties are hardly likely to be too radical in their treatment of the energy companies, no matter what they may say in public. The criticism is purely for public consumption and in at least one instance, the party is hardly going to
jeopardise a source of significant income for party funds.
The public perception of energy companies is, quite rightly, at an all time low  and no amount of fiddling with the peripheries is going to change that perception or solve the problem. In this situation, Miliband demonstrates yet again, that he and the party he leads, are concerned purely with maintaining the economic status quo in this country by managing the "capitalist" system in a way only marginally different to that of the Tory party.  I have often argued that Miliband and the Labour party are seeking to persuade us all that they are better at being Tory than the Tories are and that they are best placed to manage the economy and those businesses within it and to maintain the social structure of the country. The reality of course is that he and the leaders of the other parties, together with their party "establishments" are interested only in maintaining the status qou of their parliamentary positions together with the privileges and perks which accompany it.
On the question of energy and the companies supplying it, Miliband and the Labour party are wrong as they have been wrong for decades on their whole approach to the privatised industries and what Labour policy should be in response to them (and also other policy matters but that is for another debate). Labour have for many years under the "leadership" of Blair, Brown and now Miliband, offered no resistance to the policy of privatisation and have endorsed, even created privatisation of sectors of the economy. There are some industries which are far too important to society to be left to the vagaries of private enterprise. The supply and distribution of energy is one such industry. Privatisation has failed and penalised the consumer, the tax payer and the public in all of the industries privatised to date. For complete failure, we need look no further than British Rail. For exploitation of the consumers, Water, Power, Telecoms and BP to mention just a few. For "ripping off" the taxpayers we need only to remember privatising the banks (with no resulting public control) and perhaps the greatest and latest rip off the privatisation at a give away price of Royal Mail, the most recent theft of public assets.  
Miliband should not be proposing fresh controls on energy prices and seeking ways   " to mend the broken energy market ". He and his party should be advocating and preparing to return the energy market into public ownership. The "fat cat" bosses of the energy companies will squeak and sequel in protest. They will threaten all sorts of dire consequences and will be joined by the Tory party in howls of dissent. However, the discomfort and resentment of a few energy company bosses and some predominately Tory politicians, should be of little concern when righting the indefensible exploitation of their many consumers.