Is the electorate ready for more radical solutions to the cost of living crisis – and the deeply worrying forecasts for energy prices this winter – than our politicians are currently offering.
The Tory Party leadership election seems to have been taking place in a parallel universe where the only problems seem to be being woke (Sorry Tories but being woke is a good thing and strangely supported by the majority of the population in all polling) or still finding ways to have a go at Europe for its own failure on #Brexit. It does feel as though the candidates are targeting the ‘Swivel eyed loons’ that David Cameron so lovingly called his party members and not the needs of the country. Quelle Surprise!
Parties Talk to Themselves
We know the Tories are only talking to themselves. It’s a constant danger for political parties.
Given the scale of the problem many are predicting the energy crisis could be the Tories Poll Tax moment again. I see the anger and frustration in people but sadly also a lack of direction for that pent up frustration. This is the opportunity for Labour and others to galvanise this anger into a desire for things to be very different in the future. These are moments that do need to be used.
Gordon Brown calls for partial nationalisation
It is therefore good to see my old boss Gordon Brown involved in these debates. Gordon is calling for energy firms unable to offer lower bills to be temporarily be re-nationalised.
Now this might not be the exact solution and I would caveat all of the ideas I have seen being floated around as not quite being as simple as they would suggest, but surely it has got the point with threats of £4200 per annum energy bills that an imperfect solution is better than allowing families to get into debt or simply not be able to afford their basic bills. We know millions are already at breaking point and these new eye watering bills are scaring a pensioner like me!
We have all seen the memes and headlines. The French owned company EDF is raising its prices by 4% this year. Yes 4%. Owning EDF has allowed the French government to look after its consumers. Of course it can’t control global energy prices which are the cause of this problem, but it decides who takes the hit. Our Energy Price Cap regime is clearly no longer fit for purpose.
So there is a different way. Although I am not a big fan of simple nationalisation for its own sake there still remains a case for selective intervention in some markets and basic necessities like water, transport and energy. The exact model needs to be right but at least now we are able to start considering what this might look like.
It has been hard to understand why the electorate has been convinced of the dangers of nationalisation. I know most of my colleagues on the left see it as the simple solution to everything but their timing and framing have all scared the electorate from Labour on this issue, thanks mainly to a pretty right wing media doing the Tories bidding.
My model for the UK has always been on the social democratic examples of Central Europe and Scandinavia. It is no coincidence that levels of wealth, health and well-being are off the scales compared to the UK and every one of these countries has various forms of public ownership models for its railways and energy and water. Look at what Germany has been able to do with its £9 Rail Pass.
It is time for the UK to join these countries and embrace policies that are seen as mainstream across Europe. The scale of our crisis demands action for millions of voters. It is all people are talking about.
So let the Tories fight out their culture wars – but from a long period in opposition. It is now time for all progressives to end the misery of this tawdry tory government by fighting together to wipe them out at the next election and create a new constitutional settlement that also takes on the press barons who have held back this country for too long.