The big issues of the week leading up to this month’s BV publication have been the Windsor Framework and the Cost of Living (neatly expressed in the price of gas and electricity).
As a Lib Dem, my instincts are to head for the common ground, find the right balance, seek fairness and a basis for sustainable future growth. Why? Well, mostly because I have seen and felt the effects of a lack of compromise and misplaced ideology. July 1972 saw me volunteering at a camp for “troubled kids” from Belfast. On our last evening, around a campfire we heard of the deaths and injuries of some of their friends from a wave of attacks on the streets of their city. Five years later found me in a flat in Madrid, 15 yards from where terrorists chose to put a bomb in the gateway to a government building. I remember thinking as I briefly sailed through the air towards the wall on the far side of my bedroom, “It’s the weekend, for crissake!”
Neither event was justifiable, not remotely justifiable. Both, though, were born of age-old repression and a lack of hope coupled with excess zeal and misplaced ideology.
Woe betide the DUP if they prolong the current stand-off.
A pyrrhic victory
Sir Ed Davey’s call for further strong support for families and businesses in the face of continuing high gas and electricity prices is spot on. There will be those abstract-minded mandarins in the Treasury who believe that the nation will soon adjust to a new normal – just as it has done with £10 for a pack of cigarettes, £5 for a pint and around £1.50/litre for petrol. We will all be praised for the environmentally sound principle of giving up non-essential energy use, when the truth is that using less is becoming the only way of affording what we need. The proliferation of pre-payment meters further drives a hand-to-mouth existence for too many, especially those on low and/or fixed incomes. The original price hike was the driver of inflation; time alone solves the inflation percentage even if prices stay high – a pyrrhic victory for Rishi if ever there was one.
No, the government can and must act to resolve the way in which energy from fixed cost sources such as hydro, nuclear, wind and solar is only buyable at the same rate as that produced by fossil fuels, themselves price-hiked by Putin’s grotesque war of conquest.
Remember, the typical US electricity price is about half what it is in the UK. The price in France is only a little more than the US price. So, less wringing of hands and bleating that you ‘can’t beat the market’, please. Let’s see some action, some fairness and less of a blight on opportunity.
North Dorset Lib Dems