Friday 12 May 2017

A few simple questions about Labour's energy policies

In this article I'm going to provide 12 simple questions that you can send to anyone who claims that they oppose the Labour Party energy policy because it's "too left-wing", "Marxist nonsense", "taking us back to the 1970s" or any other reason.

I've divided the questions into four different categories relating to the four stand-out energy policies from the Labour manifesto.

1. Labour want to renationalise the transmission and distribution grid because these things are natural monopolies.

1.1. Do you know what a natural monopoly is?
1.2. Given that natural monopolies are not subject to competition, and therefore susceptible to market abuse, what is your justification for natural monopolies remaining under private ownership?
1.3. Do you know that the Qatari and Chinese governments have invested in the UK National Grid?
1.4. Could you explain why is it right for Qatar and China to own the UK National Grid and use this natural monopoly for their own benefit, but so terribly wrong for the UK state to own and operate it for the benefit of Britain?
2. Labour wants to set up at least one publicly operated not-for-profit energy company for each region.
2.1. Could you explain why you believe not-for-profit energy companies are a bad idea in principle?
2.2. Do you believe that competition in the market place is a good thing?
2.3. If you think competition in the market place is a good thing, why are you opposed to not-for-profit local energy companies being given the opportunity to compete with the massive corporate energy companies?
3. Labour wants to create an energy agency to support local people and businesses to establish Local Energy Cooperatives.
3.1. Do you believe it is the role of the UK state to assist British people and British small businesses in entrepreneurial schemes, or should they just stick to assisting major corporations (like cutting the rate of tax for fracking companies in half, and over-riding local democracy) and foreign states (like bribing them into building our energy infrastructure by promising to pay them double the market rate for electricity for 35 years)?
3.2. Given that electricity transmission losses between the power station and the home are typically between 8% - 15%, wouldn't a focus on generating energy within local communities lead to a more efficient system?
3.3. Do you believe that an energy network made up of lots of small suppliers producing energy from a wide range of different sources would be more, or less susceptible to major disruptions (through terrorism, war, or natural disaster) than an energy network made up of a few gigantic producers?
4. Labour want to introduce a temporary cap on energy prices until their reforms go through.
4.1. Do you find it hypocritical that the Conservatives and the Daily Mail attacked this energy price cap policy policy as dangerous Marxist price-fixing when Ed Miliband announced it in 2013, but now that they've stolen the idea for their own manifesto, they're singing its praises and bragging about how much money it will save?
4.2. Given that the Tories are also planning to introduce energy price caps to intervene in the broken energy market, don't you think it's probably better to propose actual reforms like the Labour Party ones outlined above, rather than just offering a temporary short-term sticking plaster "solution" to the completely broken system like the Tories?
Bonus question

If you've heard anyone claiming that Labour's energy policies would "take us back to the 1970s", ask them to answer this:
Could you describe the problems we had in the 1970s with the regional not-for-profit energy companies and the proliferation of small local energy cooperatives?
Of course they'll struggle with that one, because two of the three main strands of Labour's so-called 1970s energy policy involve the introduction of things that simply didn't exist back then (regional not-for-profit energy companies and local energy cooperatives).

What answers did you get?

There are only twelve questions (and a bonus question) in all.

None of them are very difficult, especially for someone who claims to oppose Labour's Energy policies. I mean if you claim to oppose a plan to break up the natural monopolies, you've got to actually know what a natural monopoly is right?

The Tory reactions to these questions will be telling. My prediction is that the majority will just ignore them because they don't like the obvious answers. Another significant chunk of them will retort with whataboutery, misrepresentations, empty political slogans, fallacious reasoning and outright smears rather than attempt to answer the twelve questions in good faith.

A very tiny minority of Tories will actually attempt to answer the questions in good faith. I'm genuinely intrigued as to what they'll come up with because, as you can see, there are some very tricky ones to answer for people who support Tory energy policy and oppose Labour's.

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