Sunday 21 August 2022


In my article in the most recent edition of the Cornish Guardian newspaper, I backed public ownership of important services such as energy. It was as follows:

Only a few days ago, it was projected that average energy bills would soon reach £3,600 a year. The figure presently being quoted is £5,000. That is simply untenable and will do immeasurable harm to ordinary households across the whole of the UK.

Martin Lewis, from the Money Saving Expert website, has described the situation as a “national crisis on the scale of the pandemic,” adding that unless “Britain’s zombie government” acts it will leave “millions destitute and in danger this winter.” The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has meanwhile produced an open letter to the two contenders for the leadership of the Conservative Party, which has been signed by over 70 charities. It calls for compassion, and for them to show leadership to “tackle this issue head on.”

But I am extremely fearful that the interventions from new Prime Minister will be inadequate to combat the magnitude of the crisis. Indeed, the latest tax plans from Liz Truss have been rubbished because analysts have estimated that the lowest paid will receive an uplift which is less than 2% of the likely price hikes.

It is good to see opposition parties putting pressure on the Conservatives with calls for a freeze on price caps, possibly paid for by a windfall tax on the profits of the energy companies.

This is vital in the short-term, but shouldn’t we be going further? I am proud that Mebyon Kernow has long maintained that important services such as energy, water and rail should be publicly owned and publicly accountable, with the focus being on community, social need and environmental protection.

I agree with Delyth Jewell, one of the Plaid Cymru members of the Welsh Parliament. She has described the energy market as a “failed experiment” and is arguing that the concept of profit has no place in domestic energy supply. As she wrote in a recent article, “nothing short of fundamental and radical reform, based on public ownership, will ameliorate the crisis that’s looming over the coming winter months, and help save millions of people from abject suffering … and it is frankly appalling that reform of this kind hasn’t come before now [because] the vested interests of shareholders have been allowed to trump the needs of millions of consumers in the UK, which is not the case in other states.”

As she says, it is shameful that the “market revolves around keeping companies in profit” rather than ensuring that the people who need the energy to stay alive are able to afford it.

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