Jonathan Reynolds MP

Representing the communities of Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley, Longdendale, and Dukinfield
labour and coop candidate jonathan reynolds

Blog: Energy pledge is setting the agenda

It has been a busy few weeks in Parliament as the post conference row around energy prices rumbles on.

For those who don’t already know I was promoted to the role of Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change in the recent frontbench reshuffle, and it is an exciting time to join the team.

Ever since Ed Miliband announced his pledge for a 20 month freeze on energy prices at Labour Party Conference last month, energy has not been out of the news.

Ed captured the nation’s attention, set the agenda, and shifted the debate on to the cost of living, where Labour has a clear advantage over the Tories.

We have demonstrated that we are on the side of ordinary people who are suffering with the cost of living crisis, and we are not afraid to step on some toes in the search for solutions.

People regularly cite rising gas and electricity bills as one of their central financial concerns.

There is a general feeling that they are not getting a good deal from their energy suppliers. Prices only ever seem to go up, and when one company does it the rest seem to follow suit.

This goes much deeper than the short term pressure of rising bills. We are dealing with a textbook case of market failure that has resulted in a handful of large companies being able to regularly overcharge their customers safe in the knowledge that nobody will stop them.

This is fertile territory for the Labour Party and our message is simple; we will take strong action against powerful vested interests who are acting with impunity at the expense of households and businesses.

The point of the price freeze is to give people a break whilst we push through much broader reforms to the energy market. We need more transparency so we can prevent the energy giants from hiding their true costs and profits by generating energy and selling it on to themselves.

We also intend to create more competition so that smaller firms can challenge the oligopoly of the Big Six.    

The price freeze pledge has put the Tories on the back foot. They are still struggling to come up with a response and David Cameron has begun to panic. He’s determined not to appear as if he is giving in to Labour pressure, but knows he needs something to say.

In desperation he has decided that he wants to cut back so called “green taxes” which help to fund a range of environmental and social policies, opening up fresh divisions within the coalition.

This is his attempt to look as if he has something to say, but in reality he still has no ideas on how to get people’s energy bills down.

He is unwilling to stand up to the energy giants and ordinary people are paying the price. I suspect that this issue is not going to go away anytime soon with more price rises likely in the coming weeks.

I am glad that I will have a role to play in it all as part of the frontbench team. If we continue to get this right I suspect we will someday look back on it as the point at which David Cameron lost all credibility as a leader.

 


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