Just two and a half weeks after energy industry lobbyists, Energy UK, threatened higher bills and power cuts and just three days after the National Grid joined forces with warnings of winter blackouts if investment isn’t increased, SSE is the first of the Big Six to puts the threats into action: hiking dual fuel bills a whopping 8.2% and slashing all investment in new power plants until after the next election.
Blaming government social and environmental levies for a third of the price hike, SSE‘s chief executive, Alistair Phillips-Davies, told The Telegraph today that energy bills will keep on rising for the next decade, but would fall by £110 overnight if the levies were axed. Blaming the freeze in new investment on the “acute political uncertainty” around Labour’s threat to the Big Six‘s power, Phillips-Davies seems to be making us an offer we can’t refuse in a low tone of voice: accept the deal the Big Six are offering or we’ll have to punch your lights out! Continue reading SSE marks up their expenses by 50% – and they don’t call that profit!→
Today’s announcement that Labour will freeze household energy bills if they win the next election has the energy companies up in arms.
So how is television news reporting it? Are they presenting the facts accurately and impartially, as broadcasting regulations demand? Or are they presenting them in a way that makes one side appear more reasonable than the other?
Take Channel 4 News for example. They come over as being more down-to-earth, edgy and left-of-field than the BBC or Sky. If anyone is going to speak truth to the power companies it would be them. So how did they do?
Below is a rough-and-ready transcript of this evening’s Channel 4 News coverage of the disagreement between Labour and the Energy Companies, with my own thoughts as the debate unfolded in brackets below.
“And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose.
The world you live in – your nation, your people – is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed.
Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves”
Sound familiar? It did to me when I stumbled across it on the Democratic Underground website. I thought it was a pretty accurate description of how things have changed in the UK since 9/11. So it was a bit of a bummer to discover it was taken from a book about the rise of fascism in Germany in the years leading up to World War II.
I’ve just been watching the excellent new BBC/Open University movie, The Challenger, starring William Hurt, telling the story of how Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman uncovered the truth behind the 1986 space shuttle disaster.
As a former physicist with a passion for science stretching back as far as I can remember, I’m getting increasingly concerned about the way the the meaning of the word “evidence” has been subtly changing over the last 40 odd years, to the point where it now means the opposite of what it originally meant.
Language is, of course, constantly evolving. There are many words which now mean something very different to what they originally meant. For most of human history that’s been a natural, organic process. But ever since Edward Bernays combined the science of crowd psychology with the psychoanalysis of his uncle, Sigmund Freud nearly a hundred years ago now to create the ‘science’ of Propaganda’, the practical applications of Public Relations, Messaging and Language Management have been going from strength to strength.
“Apparently, in today’s business environment, it is no longer necessary actually to think, or lead, or have an idea. All that is needed is for someone to say repeatedly that they are a thinker, or a leader, or an ideas person, and then heroically fail to understand any aspect of a traditional causal link, in English, between spoken claim and actual prowess. Words mean precisely how loud you shout them.
But management, its transparent duplicity of language and shallowness of soul and thorough lack of wit, is not just disliked today in Britain, it’s quite actively loathed: and television is reflecting this more and more powerfully.
If I were this week whatever a business leader is, watching the dramatisation of my profession and its own portrayal in reality, I would wonder very hard at the emergence of a British population sadly resigned to daily governance by the kind of people whose personality and morals and intellects a staggering majority of the country would, in the real world, willingly flee by crossing live rails in damp socks.”
Tony Blair’s pledge to destroy the establishment that controls large swathes of British life has been shattered by research showing that the country’s ‘cultural gatekeepers’ are still older, white men, most often educated at either Oxford or Cambridge.
“If anything, appointments under New Labour have become more male and Oxbridge-dominated” said Damian Tambini, author of the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) report, All Change at the Top?