by Jonathan Todd
Ed Miliband provided answers to some questions posed by Uncut in the book we launched at Labour conference. Less so, others.
We asked where the money will come from. He committed to 200,000 extra homes a year without – unlike David Talbot’s chapter in our book – making clear from where the extra public resources needed to deliver this will come.
Miliband did tell us where the money for his promised energy price freeze will come from, the companies themselves. It is an imponderable whether this will result in reduced profits for them or diminishment in the green investment that Miliband treasures.
It is clear, however, that without the costs of this investment, there would be greater scope for lower household bills. Whether this investment will sufficiently dampen the impacts of climate change to justify its hefty cost is another imponderable.
The incoming prime minister of Australia is among those who doubt it. The prime minister of this country will have noted this and knows that reducing the green push will increase the scope to minimise household bills before May 2015. If Cameron were to take this option, the energy firms will align with Cameron, as both leaders would be telling them to reduce prices but only one would be enabling them to reduce costs – assuming Miliband remains faithfully green.
The public may see their bills fall before 2015 – a record of delivery for Cameron, potentially to sit alongside a steadily improving economy. Rather than return him to office, the public would be asked to vote for a freeze in energy prices by a Labour party likely to be enamoured by the green lobby but less so by business, at least big business.
Miliband needs to get on the front foot about the assistance he has offered to small businesses, while considering exactly how wedded he is to imposing green costs on energy firms. Unless these small businesses become Labour advocates, the party risks being painted as anti-business. Without some flexibility on green costs, Miliband may risk Cameron achieving more on lower energy prices before he is even in a position to implement his freeze.