David Cameron announces new tests for the energy market, at PMQs.

Cameron surrenders to Big Six lobby and Labour takes the blame again!

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? The implication that green levies brought in by the last Labour government are to blame for rising energy prices, subtly implanted in the backs of our minds a month ago, finally came into the open today when David Cameron joined up the dots. Dismissing Miliband as a “con man” for promising to freeze energy prices, Cameron sounded like he could have been reading from a script written by Energy UK:

“We need to recognise there are four bits to an energy bill. There are the wholesale prices, which are beyond our control. There are the costs of transmission and the grid, which are difficult to change. There are the profits of the energy companies and there are the green regulations. It is those last two that we need to get to grips with.

I can tell the House today that we will be having a proper competition test carried out over the next year to get to the bottom of whether this market can be more competitive.

But yes, we also need to roll back the green charges that he put in place as energy secretary.

We have to have an honest discussion about this. On our energy bills is £112 of green taxes and green regulations.”

(David Cameron pledges to reverse ‘green charges’ on energy bills, Nicholas Watt and Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, Wed 23 Oct 2013)

There’s those words again: Honest. Proper. Where have we heard them before? What did Big Nurse, Energy UK chief executive Angela Knight, say on Channel 4 News the day she launched the Energy UK campaign?

“… that proper, clear, open and honest discussion”

And what did she say on the BBC Daily Politics the day after:?

“Why can’t we discuss it properly?”

By themselves those things don’t matter, but the way they add up does. Words are memes, and memes are infectious. The infections people pick up says a lot about the company they keep. And why does this proper test need to be carried out over the next year? How many more millions is that going to cost ? Why not just show the National Audit Office  or Ofgem the numbers the Big Six have used to justify their price raids and ask them if they add up? Better still, just show them to the average Year 10 maths class and we’ll have the answer by lunchtime.

But that’s not likely to happen is it? Long gone are the days you could do these things on the back of an envelope or in your head. Now you have to go through the proper channels. An Audit Office or Ofgem inquiry would take as long as any other inquiry and cost just as much. And school maths classes can’t just do whatever sums they fancy just because they feel like it. There’s a risk they might enjoy it, and we can’t have that can we? They have to keep their noses to the core curriculum or Ofsted will be down on their necks.

So you’ve got to admit Energy UK‘s strategy has paid off beautifully. All it took was a warning six weeks ago from Big Nurse Angela that if we don’t take our medicine we deserve everything we get. Reinforced a couple of weeks later with nightmares of the torture that could lie ahead, suffering the cold and darkness of winter blackouts unable to watch television or charge our iPhones, courtesy of the National Grid. Rammed home just three days later with the first raid by bill collectors from SSE, followed by British Gas and Npower at increasingly shorter intervals wielding increasingly bigger sticks.

And even though none of their claims stand up to scrutiny and none of their numbers add up, the mainstream media, the consumer watchdogs, the energy analysts or even the average secondary school maths class haven’t bothered to check them out. With half of the the campaign still left to run, the public has lost interests, the government has capitulated and The Big Six have won their campaign!

It could have been so different. Just suppose for a moment that, instead of blaming Labour and giving The Big Six what they wanted, David Cameron had said something like this:

The statements the Big Six Energy companies have made to justify their prices rises simply don’t add up. First they claimed wholesale prices had risen, which they haven’t. Now they’re trying to pin it on green taxes. Yesterday Scottish Power was fined £8.5 million for fraud and deception. Three of the other Big Six have already been fined for similar offences and investigations against the two remaining members are still ongoing. They have ‘form’ as our Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, told the House last week. Yet none of their top executives have been sacked, suggesting there has been no change in their culture and they could well be up to the same tricks again.

Honourable Members of this House would do well to remember that one in five households in this country can no longer afford to heat their homes. Amongst our European neighbours, only Estonia has more people living in fuel poverty. This year between eight and twenty thousand of the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us will become seriously ill and die from the cold. That’s a threat to the security of our people many hundreds of times greater than the 7/7 attacks.

As leader of Her Majesty’s Government, my first duty is to protect the security of the people of this country. I am therefore today declaring a war that will last for generations on the market fundamentalists who hold their profits more dear than human life.

I can assure the House that we will not be rolling back the green taxes, we will be doubling them and passing legislation to take them directly out of the Big Six profits. And if they don’t like it we’ll take the energy business out of their greedy grasp entirely and put it back in the hands of the people of this country, where it ought to have remained in the first place.

But that could never happen, obviously. For one thing, we no longer have public servants only public officials, whose job is to manage us, not to help us manage ourselves. For another we, the great British public, are every bit as fanatical in our economic fundamentalism as those we have elected to lead us. We devote most of our lives to making money, worship the rich and powerful and believe the poor and vulnerable only have themselves to blame. Even if none of the above were true, the global corporations who now control almost every aspect of our lives could not afford to tolerate any disobedience to their fundamentalist creed. They wouldn’t need to send in troops from the United Nations. All they’d need is to crash the economy like they did in 2008 and the power will go off, the supermarket shelves will empty and we’ll all be starving to death by the end of the week.

So The Big Six won’t have to pay the green tariffs, the taxpayer will have to bail them out just like we did the banks. Many thousands more of us will die miserably in the cold and darkness this winter and the pharmaceutical industry lobbyists will have the media convince us it’s because they didn’t take their flu shots. And the results of any investigation into the Big Six‘s antics won’t be known for another year, when so many other lobbying campaigns and con tricks have been rolled over us we’ll have forgotten what it was all about.

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together, unless you’re on the receiving end that is!

3 thoughts on “Cameron surrenders to Big Six lobby and Labour takes the blame again!”

  1. Loved this article. It is so obvious how we are being manipulated, so why aren’t we reading about this in the mainstream media?! Every day when I hear another journalist interview a representative of the Energy companies, I sit there thinking, ‘ooh this will be the one where they get the facts out!’ But hey, nothing happens….a few pertinent questions are asked and then we hear the same old same old, with no rigorous challenge and no facts to knock the socks off the spurious reasons for price hikes, just Cameron and his alleged “green crap” to explain why we have a problem!! Yes once again, ‘the plan has come together’ and thousands of people will be living in cold, miserable conditions this winter, only being able to afford to cook or heat, but not both…and the energy companies get away with it. Unbelieavable!!


    1. We aren’t reading about the how we’re being manipulated in the mainstream media because it’s the mainstream media that’s doing the manipulating. It is obvious, as you say, but it is also unbelievable. So why do we find it so difficult to believe the evidence of our own senses?

      Cameron and his “green crap” is the key. It’s the same trick pick-pockets use. As Columbia law professor, Eben Moglen, says in his recent series of lectures:

      Deception, misdirection — waving the handkerchief over here so you do not see what the other hand is doing — is the whole secret to how it works.

      So Cameron’s “green crap” is the handkerchief that misdirects attention away from what his other hand is doing. And what might that be exactly? Well, how about this:

      Green taxes are an example of what’s called Pigouvian taxes, which are taxes designed to control the damage caused by the sale of certain products by transferring the cost of the damage from the general public to the product itself.

      Charging Glastonbury Festival goers for the cost of cleaning up after them is one example. Charging smokers and drinkers for damaging the national health is another. Charging energy consumers for damaging the environment is another.

      Which might lead you to think that transferring those taxes from the products that cause the damage to the general public would be the exact opposite of what they were designed to do in the first place. But you’d be wrong.

      Three weeks ago The Sunday Times revealed that George Osborne was finalizing a new “green deal” to cut energy bills by up to £75 a year by shifting green taxes onto general taxation:

      Senior industry sources said the changes were likely to be announced in the chancellor’s autumn statement on December 4. Subsidies for green schemes would in future be paid for out of taxes, they said.

      In the three weeks since then, the mainstream media have had plenty of opportunity to ask the government what justification they have for transferring a tax from the product it was designed to control to the people it was designed to protect. The ratio of time devoted to discussing that, compared to the time devoted to discussing anything except that, is a good measure of how much the mainstream media educate and inform and how much they deceive and misdirect.

      But, with a week and a half left before Osborne’s autumn statement, they still have plenty of time to make amends. They don’t need to mention the word “Pigouvian” if they think it’s too much above our heads. A few examples would suffice.

      What if the government were to remove the cost of cleaning up Glastonbury from the Glastonbury Festival goers and add them to to the Council Tax instead? How many local residents would object? What if they were to remove taxes from cigarettes and alcohol and add them to the income tax? What kind of furore would that create?

      That would be a good question for the Question Time panel. But only after Osborne’s autumn statement is all done-and-dusted, obviously.


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