Same Old (S)Tories

The first major policy announcement of the new Truss government has, unsurprisingly, all the hallmarks of right-wing, conservative economics and a blatant disregard for the lives and difficulties being faced by working people.

Despite overwhelming support for the nationalisation of energy companies – recent polls suggest that over 70% of people are in favour – the response of the Truss administration is to bail out the companies already making billions of pounds profit through government borrowing, which tax payers will be repaying for years to come. It’s the same old Tories and the same old story.

When working people are looking for an answer to the current energy and cost of living crisis they need to look beyond the Conservatives and also beyond the Labour Party. Liz Truss won’t take energy companies into public ownership and neither will Labour’s Keir Starmer. He says he’s ‘not in favour’ of it – despite Labour’s election manifesto promises.

In the past year energy bills in the UK – where oil, gas and energy are all owned by multi-national companies- have increased by 215%. In the same period bills in France – where the government owns the gas companies and is the major shareholder in the main electricity provider – have risen by just 4%.

Taking our utilities into public ownership could, at a stroke, alleviate the human misery and suffering currently being experienced by young and old alike.

The cost of taking the ‘Big 5’ energy companies into public ownership is estimated to be around £2.8 billion. That’s a lot of money, until you realise that since June last year the government has spent £2.7billion bailing out 28 failing energy companies.

The solution to the cost of utilities crisis is not in vote catching gestures but in bringing gas, electricity, broadband services and fuel into public ownership and public control. Neither the Tories, nor Labour, are going to do that.

Nationalise energy production now

Fuel poverty is a harsh reality. The ‘official’ figure in Northern Ireland is 22% of households. Fuel poverty charities are now warning that recent energy price increases will push thousands of additional households into further fuel poverty.

The current energy crisisis a symptom of the crisis underlying global capitalism. The working class, the unemployed, the poor, those unable to work due to illness or disability, the elderly and retired are the ones who bear the brunt.

Recurring price rises, combined with the end of the furlough scheme and the withdrawal of the £20 uplift in universal credit, leaves thousands facing a bitter winter.

As the weather gets colder people, faced with extortionate and rising bills, are struggling to heat their homes and are living in cold and dangerous conditions which, in stark terms, means many will become ill and will die as a result.

These tragedies are preventable.  Energy is an essential service. The Workers Party has already made a number of immediate demands to mitigate the effects of fuel poverty and is also demanding the nationalisation of the energy network, calling for a publicly owned energy system.

The energy sector must be taken into public ownership. This will help address avaricious energy prices, alleviate fuel poverty and assist in the battle against climate change.

Public ownership would also ensure protection for the jobs of thousands of workers in the energy sector.

It is time to tackle the myth that the market and “consumer choice” can provide a solution. This model has patently failed. Lining the pockets of the capitalist class will only deepen the problems.

While an energy policy that is truly sustainable, meets the needs of the people and minimises damage to the environment is only realisable under a planned economy in a socialist system, now is the time to demand the immediate public ownership of the energy system.