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PM Truss to the rescue

It seems like Liz Truss is going to do something about soaring energy prices. This is good. There is a sense from hearing people talk about their energy bills that for a great many people it is just impossible that they can keep up with paying them at the current rate for very long, but that there is also nothing to be done about it - like a slow tsunami on the horizon that people are just waiting to make ground. So relief from that in the short-term will be positive, but it will also be an incredible waste of a moment of rare opportunity to redraw the economic foundation of our society if she decides simply to give public money upfront to the oil and gas suppliers instead of letting them take it from us via our bills.

We could instead decide to tax energy supplier profits at 78% as the Norwegians do, we could use that money to kickstart a rapid acceleration in the move towards renewable, secure, domestic energy supply. We could decide to nationalise key parts of our infrastructure such that the profits they generate are reinvested into the running of the country and not simply extracted from it via international corporations and their shareholders. We could invest in building out a domestic supply chain for renewable energy technology - batteries, solar panels and domestic-scale renewable energy infrastructure - coupled with incentives for installing it like those we’ve had for energy efficiency since the early 1990s.

Instead, we will get a sticking plaster on an unfolding economic disaster which might not reach breaking point this time round, but with each successive tepid intervention, we get ever closer to a collapse in living standards. England is already easily the worst-run country I have ever lived in, and whilst humanity seemingly progresses in places like the Netherlands and New Zealand, it feels very much like this country is backsliding pretty rapidly towards an even bleaker past. Don’t hold your breath for the fourth successive Tory PM being the one to arrest the decline.

Published on 6 September 2022 – PoliticsEconomics

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Stuart Frisby, 2015-top