Monday, 4 November 2013

The energy expenses scandal


In November 2013 the Sunday Mirror revealed that 340 MPs (more than half of them) have been claiming their energy bills on parliamentary expenses. I've already written extensively on energy policy so I'll stick to a few quick points.
 

It is hardly surprising that energy price inflation is soaring out of control in the UK. Not only are the establishment class already insulated from the adverse effects of energy price inflation by virtue of their wealth, more than half of MPs have their energy needs met at the taxpayers' expense. The problem of fuel poverty, and the fact that it will claim countless lives this winter is quite clearly an alien subject to those that can keep their heating on full bore, 24 hours a day at the taxpayers' expense throughout the winter.
 

MPs from either side of the house have been caught up in this taxpayer subsidised energy scandal, however the bulk of the criticism must surely be aimed at the coalition government politicians, who without a hint of irony railed against Ed Miliband's proposed government intervention in the energy market in order to protect the poorest and most vulnerable people in society from energy price inflation, in order to side with the energy companies that threatened to impose energy blackouts on the nation should curbs on their profiteering ever be imposed.

The most egregious claim of £5,822 was submitted by the Millionaire Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi for energy use on his vast 31 acre estate. This is a bloke who has bragged about his achievements on the energy bill committee in improving energy efficiency in homes and businesses. One wonders what incentive he has to improve the energy efficiency of his own country mansion, given that his enormous energy bills are paid for at taxpayers' expense no matter how well insulated his walls, windows and roof spaces are.


Another egregious claim was submitted by another Tory millionaire, the MP for East Devon Hugo Swire, who billed the taxpayer £3,192 to cover his energy bills. Just a few weeks previously he told his local newspaper that "The reason we are not introducing a price freeze is it simply won’t work. If we want the lights to stay on, consumers and taxpayers are, by some means or other, going to have to pay for it". It is absolutely clear that he believes the taxpayer are "going to have to" pay for his energy usage, but us common plebs ("consumers") "are going to have to" pay for our own, whether we can afford to subsidise outrageous corporate profiteering or not.

Another high profile Tory MP to put in a ludicrous claim for his energy bills was Alan Duncan, who billed the taxpayer £3,998 for energy use at his second home. A few weeks before the Mirror revealed the ludicrous personal energy subsidy he benefits from, he had a rant to his local paper about Ed Miliband's energy freeze policy. In his rant he constructed a catastrophically poor argument that energy price inflation is as inevitable as the tides, based on little more than feeble appeals to authority (I worked as an oil trader for 20 years don't you know? I've been an MP for over 20 years don't you know?), ludicrous fantasies (in Duncan's worldview the UK energy market is a highly competitive "free market" rather than a price rigging cartel riddled with foreign state owned eneteprises such as EdF and E-On) and topped off with some childish tribalist political mudslinging. No wonder he is opposed to caps on energy prices, the cost of his utilities bills don't matter a jot to him because the taxpayer pays it for him, whatever the price.


I've already written an article exposing the ludicrously hypocritical energy policy of the Tories, which consists of calling Ed Miliband a "market rigger" and a "price fixer" for daring to propose that energy price inflation is brought under control for 20 months, then just a couple of weeks later signing off on a ludicrous price fixing deal with EdF to pay almost double the market rate for electricity for 35 years. You can read that article here: 12 Things you should know about the Tory nuclear price fixing subsidies.

I've also written an article on MPs pay and expenses, in which I propose that all of their perks are removed and that their salary is pegged to the median income, meaning that if the public get poorer in real terms, they get poorer too, but if the public get richer then the MPs benefit from increased prosperity too. This would give them a financial incentive to make sure that conditions improve for the majority, and it would also allow us to actually believe them when they made claims like "we're all in this together". You can read that article here: The Case For ... Proportional Pay for MPs.
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Tory energy policy hypocrisy
                                          
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