Ed Miliband and the Queen talk energy
This week Ed Miliband and the Queen both joined the energy debate.
“Then let’s get on with tackling the problem with people’s living standards; stand up to the energy companies so that we guarantee every pensioner over the age of 75 the lowest tariff available and break up the Big Six energy companies: stand up for people who are seeing their train fares going up; and stand up for different choices on taxation.”
That’s the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, going on an all-out offensive on the Tories in a speech given in Harlow this week.
Now, I’m not a political commentator and I’m not siding with any party, but I have to say that it does frustrate me when statements that haven’t been completely thought out are thrust out purely with to capture votes or headlines.
He said that he wants to guarantee that every pensioner over the age of 75 gets the lowest possible energy tariff. However, I’d argue that that the issue shouldn’t be about age - it should be about levels of poverty. Not everyone over 75 is living in poverty, just as not everyone under 75 is financially secure. But that’s not my not my axe to grind.
His next suggestion - that we break up the Big Six energy suppliers - is the sticking point for me.
I will be the first person to say that the UK energy market is far from perfect and it needs to improve in many ways, not least by increasing the number of companies operating within it. But Ofgem’s plans to increase liquidity in the market should aid new entrants, and I would also like to add that in the B2B market we already see a great deal of activity from non-Big Six energy companies and we know that more are coming in the very near future.
My question to Ed Miliband is, what good will breaking up the Big Six do? Surely if he was feeling in a destructive mood, he would have been better off picking on the banks and would have got a lot more support from voters for it.
Energy is always going to be a hot topic, so it’s not surprising that as well as Ed Miliband, the Queen also made a reference in her speech at the state opening of Parliament. In a nutshell, the Queen said that there will be reforms the electricity market to encourage more investment in low carbon generation and clean energy, put more restrictions on the emissions of new coal plants and create a new independent regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, funded by the industry.
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