Labour’s proposals to take the national and regional energy grid back into public ownership may give a boost to workers’ interests over shareholder profits, but the way the proposals are set out produces an increased risk of nuclear power being given priority over renewable energy. Put simply that is because the way the proposals are structured means more power to the GMB in particular, a body which is very pro-nuclear and which is relatively hostile to renewable energy and a smart energy network. Labour announced the plan, in May, to take the transmission and distribution energy structure into public ownership, as well as plans to set up a ‘National Energy Agency’ (to run the National Grid), Regional Energy Agencies (to run regional distribution), and give opportunities for municipal ownership of distribution on a local basis. This plan can achieve traditional Labour Movement objectives, but its impact on pushing forward a green agenda is doubtful. Put bluntly, the more that power is given to bodies that will be influenced by organisations like the GMB (who favour centralised power station solutions), the less useful will be the outcome. The proposals make a gesture in favour of municipalisation, but for most places the reality will be central control. Control over the grid should be given to local authorities as a matter of course, perhaps in consortia (certainly at a national, transmission, level). Local authorities are influenced by the local electorate and local citizen groups. They will be sympathetic to green energy priorities. On the other hand centrally owned quangos will be insulated from such democratic input and will be under the thumb of the existing industrial establishment. Innovation will go out of the window.
Dave Toke’s Blog 15th June 2019 read more »
Dominic Lawson: An apology. In a previous column, I gave readers the impression that Theresa May, whatever her faults, was at least not guilty of vanity. How wrong I was: in her last weeks as prime minister she has been single-mindedly determined, as it is described by those around her, to secure her “legacy”. Who, but the PM herself, cares about that? Certainly not voters, none of whom minds which politician gets the credit for what. Worse, in her haste before her exit from Downing Street next month, May has attempted to sideline the chancellor, who has reasonable concerns about the costs of satisfying her vanity. That is why the Treasury has been frantically leaking the costs of all these various legacy measures, coming up with a figure of more than a trillion pounds. But this vanity is trivial compared with May’s announcement (in a press release, not to parliament) committing the country to become “net zero carbon” by 2050. Even if Philip Hammond’s estimate that this will cost “a trillion pounds” is contrived, such a proposal deserves the fullest scrutiny. There is insufficient parliamentary time for this before May’s departure, so she proposes to enact it via a “statutory instrument”, which requires no debate or readings in the two legislative chambers. Add arrogance to vanity.
Times 16th June 2019 read more »