Posts Tagged ‘energy price freeze’

Why Labour should fear the blowback from its war on business

15/04/2014, 11:22:40 AM

by Samuel Dale

During his doomed leadership contest David Miliband said Labour could not afford to go into the 2015 general election with no business support.

One year ahead that election and that is exactly what is happening. Labour is at open war with business with signs it is about to step up the offensive rather than build bridges.

The list of proposed interventions into industry is dizzying with almost every major sector targeted.

I’m told Labour is planning a policy blitz on no fewer than eight sectors ahead of party conference later this year. It is part of an ambitious agenda to significantly boost consumer rights and hand power back to consumers and away from huge corporations. 

Ed Miliband positions himself as US President Teddy Roosevelt breaking up monopolies and boosting competition. His modern incarnation has been called many names from pre-distribution to progressive austerity or socialism with no money. In 21st Century Britain let’s see what Miliband is actually proposing in your crucial industries.


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Class-based jibes are not an effective attack on Osborne’s feel-good budget pitch

24/03/2014, 03:52:00 PM

by Jonathan Todd

“Tories neck and neck with Labour,” reported The Sunday Times. Revisiting the questions that Uncut posed for George Osborne prior to the Autumn Statement allows us to assess how the landscape is evolving.

1.) Has the relationship between economic and Tory recovery broken?

Last October Uncut ran a regression to analyse the relationship between economic sentiment and Labour’s poll lead. This indicated that for every 1% increase in the proportion of the electorate reporting the economy as doing well, the Tories would close on Labour by 0.6% – ‘the Todd thesis’, as Lewis Baston christened it. The table below, which uses figures from YouGov, shows how these variables have evolved since then.


The upward trend in economic sentiment is clear. Labour’s lead over the Tories, though, remains much the same now (5.6%) as last October (5.7%). This is the stuff of the ‘voteless recovery‘ that Tories fear.

Digging deeper into these numbers, however, raises some challenges for Labour. The table shows that Labour’s lead was largest during November and December. This might be explained by the popularity of Labour’s price freeze commitment made at party conference. As this commitment has featured less prominently in political debate, Labour’s lead has withered.


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Labour’s poll lead is slipping again. Here’s why

10/12/2013, 12:28:22 PM

by Atul Hatwal

In a momentous week for news, one development has understandably slipped by without major comment: the shift in the polls since the Autumn Statement.

The Sunday Times YouGov poll had Labour’s lead at 5 points, today’s Sun YouGov poll similarly has the lead at 5 points and today’s ICM poll in the Guardian also registers a lead of 5. In comparison, the average YouGov lead in the week before the Autumn Statement was 8 while the November’s ICM poll also had Labour 8 points up.

A drop of 3 points in Labour’s lead, across 3 different polls suggests something has changed since the Autumn Statement.

Although caution is advisable given it is just a week’s polling, this shift has been expected by many and if confirmed in the coming weeks, will presage significant problems for the party.

In the two months since Ed Miliband’s conference speech, politics has been defined by Labour’s energy price freeze commitment.

Regardless of the economics, it has been politically successful in driving debate within the Westminster bubble. Countless column inches and interview minutes have been expended on the fall-out from the announcement. So much so that politics became polarised around support or opposition to the price freeze.

And this is part of the problem.

Labour’s year long slide in the polls appeared to have been arrested in October and November, but the profile of the price freeze has been such that the polls in these months virtually became referendums on whether action should be taken to reduce energy prices rather than predictions of voting at the next election.

The shift in the polls over the past week suggests the impact of the energy price freeze is now diminishing.

There is a precedent for this type of development.

In September 2000, for one month, politics was turned upside down. William Hague’s Conservative opposition reversed months of double digit ICM poll deficits to leap into a 4 point lead. The cause was the fuel crisis.


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The realpolitik behind Labour’s energy price freeze

29/10/2013, 03:04:11 PM

by Atul Hatwal

In the run up to Labour conference, a new policy to tackle rising energy costs was widely anticipated. After a summer of atrocious headlines, and with an Autumn of fuel price hikes in prospect, Ed Miliband needed a rabbit to pull out of his policy hat at conference.

For many within Labour, the natural solution seemed to be a new windfall tax on the utilities. It had worked well in the 1990s, when Labour was last in opposition, forcing the Tories to defend the largesse of the fat cats while generating funds to help tackle youth unemployment.

So when Ed Miliband announced the energy price freeze it was a genuinely striking political moment. There had been no pre-briefing or preparation and media and party alike were stunned.

While the media have subsequently focused on the mechanics and implications of a price freeze, from an internal Labour party perspective, politically the more interesting question is: why was a windfall tax rejected?

After all, it draws the same dividing line as the price freeze without any connotations of a 1970s style price control policy and given the windfall tax’s previous successful implementation, the public would be more likely to believe it would be enforced (the ComRes poll today found that 52% of the public do not think Labour will enact the price freeze, with 41% believing it will).

Even centrist Tories like John Major and Rob Halfon think a windfall tax would be justified.

The answer is to be found in the deteriorating relationship between Labour’s leader and his shadow chancellor, a dysfunction which is increasingly defining policy-making within the party.


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Ed Miliband has been lucky a leader in the past few weeks, but he’d be wise not to push it

10/10/2013, 01:06:52 PM

by Jonathan Todd

The energy companies are giving Ed Miliband the fight he wanted. Scottish and Southern Energy’s 8% price hike plays right into his narrative.

The Daily Mail created another one: a battle which made Labour’s leader the defender of family and veterans. And coincidentally sucked media oxygen out of a Tory conference where Cameron and his ministers were already struggling to respond to Labour’s energy price freeze.

Recent weeks have added ballast to the Labour strategy of making Miliband a speaker of truth to power. The claim to have “stopped the rush to war,” however, over does it. This argument founders on the rocks of Labour’s conditional support for strikes on Syria.

The moulding of Miliband as justice champion finds a better fit when he references standing up to Rupert Murdoch. Whether, however, deliberations on the Leveson report will reach the outcome that Miliband initially insisted seems doubtful. And whether voters are still paying attention is as uncertain.

The energy firms and the Daily Mail have, therefore, been important contributors to the muscular Miliband that he is building. It might be thought lucky that the energy firms provided the angry response that he sought. And while no one would wish to see relatives pilloried, the Daily Mail brought about a situation in which Miliband was the voice of the mainstream, as everyone would defend their dad.


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There is a simple Tory response on energy prices and Labour needs to beware

30/09/2013, 09:42:23 AM

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.


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