Energy is the hot topic this autumn. Ed Milliband, fearing his chances of being re-elected in danger with the improving economy, (which by the way is the fastest growing of the G7 nations http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2476412/Britains-path-prosperity-Say-Tories-growth-hits-fastest-rate-general-election.html), kicked off party conference season by announcing that as Prime Minister, he would have energy prices magically froze. Milliband’s policy, while likely a bold face lie if one remembers his time as energy secretary, struck a chord with people. Energy is expensive and not getting any cheaper anytime soon. Everybody politically is now proposing a solution to bring down the prices, including last week, former Prime Minister John Major.
For the life of me, I have never understood the attention heaped on unsuccessful former politicians. We were critical of them when they were active politicians, but once they retire (many of whom go to Lords) we think they suddenly became wise policy geniuses. The same often happens in America. Jimmy Carter for instance loves to voice his opinion. Yet there is no reason to listen to him, he almost drove the country in four years to losing the cold war and impoverishing the nation. John Major was also a failure, so why would should we listen to him?
John Major wrecked the Tory party. He raised taxes, divided the party and led them to their worst electoral defeat in 90 years. And last I checked he is not an expert on keeping prices down or energy. Worst of all though, he attacked anybody who saw the fallacy of his pro-European fantasies as “bastards”; people who saw the ERM crash coming in 1992 and the fallacy of shoving through the Maastricht Bill in 1993, a bill that handed over way too many sovereign powers to Europe. He was a failure as a Prime Minister and his only success, the 1992 election victory, were due to the fact that people feared returning to the Labour policies of the 1970s, not because of him. Now he has the gall to go out and rip the Tory right over Europe and the current Prime Minister over energy policy when they are working hard to clean up a mess left for them from New Labour, and on Europe, much of it directly from him? The man needs to retire gracefully and not attack his own party. The party needs unity more than ever today, and his divisive old ways are not productive or helpful. Simon Heffer’s piece in the Daily Mail hits the nail on the head on Major http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2474397/Ambushed-John-Majors-snide-attack-PM-fuel-prices-flawed-disastrous-years-Number-10-writes-SIMON-HEFFER.html and Iain Duncan Smith too had a great line on Major. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24668859
So what should be done on energy? Many people are hurting and if inflation continues to eat out economic gains the recovery will not be a real one. I believe there are two options, one short term and one long term, that will help lower energy prices. The short term fix is to cut and remove many of the green taxes. “Vote Blue Go Green” is gone hopefully never to return. (It is nice that the top of the tree is the union jack and not green leaves as a side note). Maybe it was needed to “detoxify” the party image in the middle of the last decade but it rings hollow in a time where people struggle to heat their home in the winter. Cameron seems to have seen the light on green taxes, which is welcome. I hope the Lib Dems do not block the taxes for electioneering purposes, which it seems Clegg is trying to do with free schools.
For a long term fix, I think diversity of sources is the key. The more energy sources, the better for consumers in the long run. I welcome the building of the Hinkley nuclear power plant, the exploration for fracking and more north sea oil, as I think will consumers. Wind turbines have failed to live up to their expectations not lowering costs but blighting much of the countryside. I wrote a longer blog on energy policy this summer which I still think could work for Britain. http://my.telegraph.co.uk/texantory/texantory/61/power-to-the-people/.
As for Milliband’s and Major’s ideas, they would not be helpful, but hurtful. Millband’s price freeze would lead to less investment in the UK’s energy infrastructure and lead to greater monopolisation, the latter which was seen in the time of New Labour. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2474531/STEPHEN-GLOVER-We-hate-energy-firms-politicians-blame-soaring-bills.html. That would not benefit consumers and it would also likely result in shortages, like what was seen in the 1970s. Labour talking about possibly renationalising rail is further absurd and will not in lower prices for consumers unless the quality of service is cut back for passengers. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/10404390/Labour-could-renationalise-railways-spokesman-says.html
Major’s “windfall tax” proposal ignores the reality of economics. John O’Sullivan a former advisor to a SUCCESSFUL Prime Minister, the late Baroness Thatcher, lays out the case better than I ever could. http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2013/10/from-johnosullivannr-windfall-taxes-a-bad-idea-then-and-a-bad-idea-now.html. Major sung at the wrong time, and about something he knew almost nothing about. When you are “over the hill” and your career is over, you should bow out. The curtain fell on John Major in 1997, he should have stayed silent for the benefit of himself, his party, and the country.