Archive for the ‘Electricity’ Category

Diane Abbott Slams Rishi Sunak’s Bogus Promise about Continuing Maths Education Until 18

January 5, 2023

Yesterday, our latest prime minister, Rishi Sunak, announced that as well as tackling the state of the NHS and channel migrants, he would make it compulsory for school students to continue to study maths until 18. This was, he announced, necessary to combat poor maths literacy. His speech has impressed precisely no-one, and has been extensively torn to shreds by commenters like Owen Jones and Novara Media. After all, it’s the Tory policies of underfunding, cuts and stealth privatisation that have created the mess the NHS is in, in the first place. As for the channel migrants, they’ve been unable to tackle that either, except with Patel’s plan to send them all to Rwanda, a country suffering serious human rights abuses. That plan was condemned by the public and also, I believe, various judicial authorities.

Abbott in a tweet stated that Sunak’s plan for continuing maths education until the school leaving age was bogus because the Tories had cut teacher’s pay, as well as underfunding education generally. She’s absolutely right, as I can remember from my schooldays when schools were increasingly decaying thanks to cuts to funds. Except for the academies, of course, which were given more far more than state schools. Critics have also wondered whether Sunak will even have time to implement this reform before the possibility that he and his wretched party are voted out at the next election.

There’s also been an interesting opinion piece in the Groaniad by a lecturer in mathematical biology. He argues that it’s unnecessary, as maths is already the most popular A Level subject, far outstripping its nearest rival, psychology. He also states that making it compulsory would further decrease the numbers of people taking arts and humanities subjects, as they’d have to give up them as well as choose another STEM subject to harmonise with the maths. He also makes the excellent point that making it compulsory might put people off it even more by forcing them to study a subject they hate.

To me, it just looks like Sunak trying desperately to look like he’s actually doing and standing for something, whereas in fact he stands for nothing except the worn out Tory policies that have driven the public services into the ground and working people to desperation. The fact that he has nothing to say was shown very clearly just before Christmas, when he, or one of the Tories, announced they wanted to meet the railway unions, but wouldn’t talk about wages. As wages are part of the issue, this negated the whole point of any meeting. Again, it was just an exercise in public relations. He wanted it to appear that he was doing something and prepared to negotiate while the reality was the complete opposite.

Sunak is flailing about with nothing to offer, and it’s obvious.

The Dutch Are Building Wildlife Bridges for Animals

January 3, 2023

I just caught a snippet on YouTube today about the Netherlands building bridges over their motorways for wildlife to use. It reminds me a little of the underpasses that were being built in some places in this country for hedgehogs to cross the road, except these are bigger. Much bigger. Here’s a picture of one I found online.

I think it’s a great Green initiative, and although it reminds me of the garden bridge over the Thames Johnson wasted £60 million on before it was dumped as unworkable. This, on the other hand, seems to be not just workable, but rather more aesthetically pleasing than the bare concrete of the usual motorway bridges. There is a trend to include vegetation and green spaces in architecture. A number of architects have designed high rise flats where the walls are covered with plants in ‘vertical gardens’. If these bridges are working, I’d like to see a few over here, but I’m sure we won’t get them under the Tories. Despite the lies about them supporting Green energy and the environment.

Shock! Horror! Patriotic YouTuber Paz49 in Favour of Nationalising Energy Companies

December 16, 2022

Here’s a turn up for the books! Paz49 is a former squaddie and I think he may also have been a prison warder. He’s a patriotic, true-blue Tory who begins his videos with ‘Hello lefties’ and then begins to make it very plain that he thinks everyone on the left is well-below him in intelligence. He got a bit shirty with me a year or so ago for a piece I put up criticising him for applauding the ultimatum sent by a group of French officers and soldiers. This declared that they would take to the streets and fight unless the French government took a harder stand against Islam. This sounded to very many people like the threat of a far-right coup or civil war. Paz endorsed it, and then got angry when I described him as ‘far right’, which he took to mean ‘fascist’. Well, it can mean fascist. But equally it also means parties or organisations to the right of the Tories, of which the fascists are only one out of a number. UKIP were far right, in the sense that they were more extreme than the Tories, but they were national populist rather than fascist.

But it seems there is one left-wing policy Paz is prepared to support. He posted a poll asking his readers if they would support the nationalisation of the energy companies. He did, because they had got too greedy. I did the poll, voting yes, and it appears that over 70 per cent of his respondents did the same.

Which bears out the findings of organisations like We Own It that the renationalisation of the energy companies and public utilities in general is popular with people across the political spectrum.

It’s just the Tory government that doesn’t like it.

Starmer Brings Back Labour Plan to Abolish House of Lords

December 13, 2022

Last week it was revealed that Keir Starmer intends to abolish the House of Lords. Before I go any further, I should say that I have no idea what he wants to replace it with. I caught a few seconds of a video put up by GB News or one of the other god-awful right-wing YouTube channels of a Starmer being laid into on this issue by Peter Hitchens. From the few seconds I saw, Hitchens was accusing him of wishing to make all the members of the upper house appointed by the Prime Minister. Hitchens stated that this would be undemocratic, which is absolutely right, if true. But the debate is also more than a little familiar. Back in 1986 or 87 the papers carried reports that the Labour party then wanted to abolish the House of Lords. I think they also plans to reform the House of Commons to make it more democratic, which would have involved giving more power to the speaker. Then there were Tony Blair’s reforms in the late ’90s and early part of this century.

Blair took on the objection to the House of Lords that it was an unelected, undemocratic anachronism. It is. It is, or was, a remnant of feudalism, the old medieval grand council in which the king or the prince was advised by the kingdom’s great lords. It goes all the way back to the witangemot, the council of wise men, in Anglo-Saxon England and similar feudal assemblies in the Carolingian Empire and other states on the continent. Such an assembly is outdated and against the basic principles of democratic representation. On the other hand, it had the advantage of being cheap. Or so I heard it said at the time these reforms were being mooted. The other argument, put forward by really reactionary Tories, was that the hereditary peers deserved the place because they were better fitted to it through centuries of breeding and education. Which is the old Tory argument that all the great civilisations had an aristocracy that cost them an election in the early part of the past century. I don’t think it’s a vote winner, but I’ve no doubt that Jacob Rees-Mogg probably believed in it. He started his career as an aspiring MP campaigning for the seat of a Scots fishing town. He proudly announced that he was standing on a platform of trying to convince the local people that an unelected, hereditary upper house was actually a great institution. Obviously he didn’t succeed, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the SNP vote didn’t increase in that constituency as a result.. Blair reformed the House partly by appointing some of its members, and subsequent Prime Ministers have done the same, so that the number of peers is now 800-odd, far more than the House of Commons and even the governing political assembly of the Chinese Communist party. The peers get an allowance for turning up, and so there have been scandals and accusations that many of them just stick their head through the door long enough to claim their cheque before zooming off to business elsewhere. And the opposition objected at the time that Blair’s reform was hardly democratic. He was denounced as a new Cromwell, who was packing parliament with his supporters, just as England’s Lord \Protector and the butcher of Ireland had done during the Interregnum.

The suggested alternative was to transform the upper house into a senate like America’s. It would still have the duty of checking and amending legislation, but would be elected. According to Private Eye, there was no real enthusiasm behind this idea. People didn’t want to have to go through another round of elections, and the lack of popular support for such a chamber would mean that only mediocrities would serve in it. This must have been the view of the powers that be, or something similar, because the plan seems to have vanished soon after.

.I believe that the current House of Lords needs to be cut down, and no, I don’t want membership of the House to be by prime ministerial appointment. But I also don’t see any point in reforming it radically. The precise nature of the House of Lords doesn’t actually bother me to anywhere near the extent that this country needs a return to the social democratic consensus pre-Maggie. Privatisation has failed, and the Tory welfare reforms are leaving people cold and starving. We need to renationalise the utilities and the railways, as well as the NHS, which should be properly funded. We needed to reverse the destruction of the welfare state so people aren’t left dependent on food banks and private charity to feed themselves if they’re unemployed or disabled. And we need to make sure working people are paid a proper wage for exactly the same reason, not to mention nationalising the energy companies so that people pay less for the fuel and electricity bills and aren’t faced with the decision whether to heat their homes, pay the rent or eat. All this is far more pressing and important than tinkering with the constitution.

But I think the mooted reform of the House of Lords is another example of Starmer wishing to emulate Blair. And Blair wanted to make Britain more like America. But our political system is different. It’s parliamentary, not presidential, and that does apparently affect the results of Blair’s reforms, including his changes to the judiciary. There’s a very interesting video of David Starkey explaining this, put up by the New Culture Forum. Starkey is, of course, a terrible old reactionary while the New Culture Forum are the cultural wing of the Institute for Economic Affairs, a right-wing Buxton Street think tank that wants to privatise everything Thatcher, Major and Blair haven’t already sold off, including the NHS. But Starkey makes a very good case for the incompatibility of British and American constitutional systems.

But most of all I’m afraid that this constitutional tinkering is in lieu of practical policies, that will make a real difference to Britain’s poor and working people. Such as the return to proper, socialist, or at least social democratic politics. Blair changed the constitution, but didn’t change Tory government policies. He just carried on with them once he was in power. In fact, he ramped them up and went much further in the privatisation of the NHS than the Tories had dared.

And I’m afraid Starmer will do likewise.

Trev Describes the Personal Effect High Energy Prices Have on Him

November 24, 2022

Yesterday I put up an episode of Michael Bentine’s Potty Time, in which an attempt to steal the crown jewels was thwarted by the police and the Beefeaters. The thieves were caught, and their leader revealed to be a computer. This was captured when it was down during a power cut. Trev, one of the great commenters on his blog, posted this remark describing how we don’t have electricity cuts just yet, but the high prices are leaving people like himself cutting back. Trev wrote

‘That’s great. I remember Potty Time and the power cuts. Now we still have power (for now) but can’t afford to use it. I’m only putting heating on for about an hour in a morning but in the evenings I’m wrapped in blankets and a wooly hat trying to keep warm. It’s not good. I don’t qualify for any of the discounts because the electricity account and bill are in the landlady’s name, and I don’t get the right Benefits to qualify for Warm Home discounts or Cold Weather payments (when they are due).’

This is what millions of people are being faced with, due to the greed of the energy companies, fully support by Sunak and the Tories. The energy companies’ vicious, exploitative avarice was even defended by Jacob Rees-Mogg back in the summer. It’s why we need to get the Tories out and Labour in, hopefully to do something that will really benefit the British public on this and other issues.

Email from We Own It Asking People to Share Their Petition for Publicly Owned Energy Company on Social Media

November 18, 2022

This is another message I got yesterday. However, I’m not on Twitter, Whatsapp or Facebook, so I’m sharing it here, and letting those who are on those social media share it if they wish.

‘Dear David,

Today Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt announced their plan for ordinary people to pay for the cost of living crisis while the rich get richer. 

You know this is wrong. There is another way – and taking our energy into public ownership should be top of the list. 

That’s why you signed the petition calling for public ownership of energy NOW! Can you share the petition to show Sunak and Hunt that the public sees through their spin?

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While millions of us struggle to afford food or heating, Moët, the luxury champagne brand, has announced unprecedented demand.

So who’s popping champagne corks right now? It’s the shareholders who own our privatised utilities and services.

This quarter BP raked in a whopping £6.9bn, and Shell has taken £26bn this year. Meanwhile, millions of us are holding off turning the heating on in the face of astronomical bills. 

Today Hunt announced that the windfall tax on energy company profits will be raised to 35%, but this is nowhere near enough. From April, the government is raising the energy price cap to £3,000 – meaning households spend even more on bills. 

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This is the moment to let as many people know as possible that it doesn’t have to be this way. 

By sharing the petition calling for public ownership of energy, you can make it clear that there is a real alternative. Right now, the government has the power to: 

  • Introduce a permanent windfall tax on oil and gas companies like Shell and BP, at a rate of 56% (on top of corporation tax)
  • Stop wasting money bailing out failing energy supply giants – set up a publicly owned energy supplier instead
  • Bring the privatised monopolies of the National Grid and regional distribution into public ownership
  • Set up a new state-owned renewable energy company to help tackle the climate crisis

Sunak and Hunt think they can get away with their choice to protect profits over people. By demanding an alternative, you can show them that the public sees right through this!

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We will only get louder with our call for public ownership as the real solution. 66% of the public already agree – let’s get that even higher. 

THANK YOU for signing and sharing the petition. Together we’re reaching more people every day, challenging the stories told by politicians and companies.

You’re helping to spread the message that public ownership is the answer, not austerity. 

Solidarity, 

Cat, Alice, Matthew, Kate and Johnbosco – The We Own It team

PS You can also share the petition by visiting our website and copying the link here: https://weownit.org.uk/act-now/public-ownership-energy-petition

38 Degrees Petition to Remove the Ban on Onshore Windfarms

November 14, 2022

Here’s another petition I got from 38 Degrees, and it also shows up the hypocrisy of Rishi Sunak and the Tories. Sunak has been talking up the advantages of green energy at the very same time he and his wretched gang of robbers are trying to limit it. Despite its advantages, the Tories have placed a ban on onshore windfarms which this petition hopes to lift. It runs

Over 70% of us support this, so why is it banned?

“…diversifying our energy supplies by investing in renewables is precisely the way to insure ourselves against the risks of energy dependency.”

David, these are the words that our PM, Rishi Sunak, delivered to COP27 on Monday. [1] But just before this, his government announced that onshore wind farms would stay banned in England – limiting the amount of renewable energy we can generate here. [2] It doesn’t make sense!

At a time when energy bills are soaring, you would think the PM would be doing everything in his power to reduce them – instead of banning such a cheap source of energy. [3] And wind power is hugely popular here in the UK – even 84% of Conservative voters want it! [4] The Government’s decision to take it off the table is quite baffling.

Right now Rishi Sunak, his green policies and his COP27 appearance is all over the news. And we know public pressure works on Rishi’s environmental policies. In recent weeks he’s U-turned on fracking and whether or not he’d be going to COP27 in the first place. [5] Let’s add our voices together again and tell the PM that we, the public, want him to u-turn on wind power too.

David, will you add your name to a petition calling on Rishi Sunak to scrap the ban on onshore wind farms? For every 500 signatures, we’ll send him a message telling him how much bigger the petition has grown. It takes 30 seconds to sign:

ADD MY NAME

Building an onshore wind farm and maintaining it creates less emissions than any other energy source and can be done in just a few months. [6] The areas they’re built on can still be used for farming too, so it’s a win-win situation. The need for cheap energy quickly has never been higher than now.

Rishi Sunak’s decision to re-ban fracking was the right call, but keeping the ban on wind power is not. The UK has the largest wind energy resource in Europe – so onshore wind farms should be a no-brainer. [7]

In the past few months, together we have accomplished so much for our environment: The Government released its plan to stop sewage pollution, fracking was banned – again – and just last week we were part of a national outcry that persuaded Rishi to attend COP27. [8] We only brought about this change because we did it as a community. So let’s do it again and get Rishi to scrap the ban on new onshore wind farms.

Will you add your name to the petition now? It’ll take just 30 seconds:

ADD MY NAME

Thanks for all you do,

Simma, Megan and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] Gov.uk: PM statement at COP27: 7 November 2022
[2] Daily Mail: Now ban on onshore wind farms will stay as Rishi Sunak axes another Liz Truss policy
[3] The Guardian: England is failing to capitalise on its onshore wind potential 
[4] Renewable UK: Polling in every constituency in Britain shows strong support for wind farms to drive down bills
[5] The Guardian: Rishi Sunak will keep ban on fracking in UK, No 10 confirms
Sky News: PM makes ‘screeching U-turn’ on attending COP27 – and all his campaign pledges are under review
[6] National Grid: Onshore vs offshore wind energy: what’s the difference?
[7] See note 4
[8] DEFRA: Consultation on the Government’s Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan
See note 5′

I’ve signed it, and if you feel the same, please feel free to do so as well.

Reply from Local Labour MP Karin Smyth on Fracking

November 4, 2022

A little while ago one of the internet petitioning organisations email me to request that I, and no doubt thousands of others, write to my MP to object to Liz Truss’ wretched plans to bring back fracking. I had absolutely no problem doing so, not least because one of the areas scheduled for it is in Keynhsam, a small town between Bristol and Bath. Today I got a very kind reply from here detailing her opposition to it and support for a sprint to Green energy. The email runs

‘Dear David

Thank you for contacting me about fracking.

I agree with you on this important issue. Fracking is unsafe, will not help our energy security or cut bills and is opposed by local communities.

I am pleased that the new Prime Minister has restored the ban on shale gas fracking in England. I find it extremely concerning, however, that this Conservative government previously broke its manifesto commitments in order to pursue a damaging policy that put the interests of fossil fuel companies above those of the British people.

To truly deliver energy security and lower bills, I believe we need a green energy sprint. The current crisis is a fossil fuel crisis and we cannot escape it by doubling down on fossil fuels. Renewables are today nine times cheaper than gas. The only way to cut energy bills and have energy security is with zero-carbon home-grown power, including by quadrupling our offshore wind capacity, more than doubling onshore wind and more than tripling solar by 2030.

I also agree that we need to prioritise and fund energy efficiency, which is why I support proposals for a national effort to bring all homes up to energy performance certificate band C within a decade. This would save families large amounts each year on their energy bills and reduce national gas imports by up to 15%.

Only Labour will consistently deliver promises to tackle the climate crisis and improve green energy. Please be assured that in the meantime I will continue to press the Government on this issue, as well as support calls to accelerate efforts on energy efficiency and homegrown renewables.

Thank you once again for contacting me.

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth MP
Labour MP for Bristol South

The most interesting piece of this is the line that ‘renewables today are nine times cheaper than gas’. Nine times! This tells me that we are definitely being exploited by the fossil fuel companies.

Rishi Sunak to Attend COP 27 After All

November 2, 2022

It seems that the internet petitions launched to get our recently un-elected Prime Minister to attend the COP27 conference have actually had an effect. According to Sky News this morning, Sunak has said that he will be going. He tweeted this morning that ‘There is no long term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables. That is why I will attend @COP27 next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.’

Sky’s Tamara Cohen in this report below suggests that Sunak’s volte-face was caused by the unexpected backlash he got from his party, including former Chancellor George Osborne, who said that he was trashing the Tories’ green legacy. This was something the Tories can be proud of when frankly there isn’t much else. They were also thinking of Boris Johnson hosting the Glasgow conference. Also, the report says, it gives him a chance to network with the other world leaders.

So, no mention of the fact that the British public were also demanding he go, and Keir Starmer criticised him for not going, which obviously also put pressure on Sunak to reverse his decision. But at least Sunak is going to attend the summit at last.

Email from 38 Degrees on the Government’s Consultation Paper on Green Energy

October 26, 2022

This came through yesterday. The internet democracy organisation is asking their supporters to fill out the government’s consultation paper on green energy, which has to be done by tomorrow. The plan has some good points, but in the eyes of the experts it doesn’t go far enough. If you click on the links, you go to the paper’s questions with 38 Degrees’ suggested answers. I’ve filled it out, and am posting it here so others may do so too if they wish.

‘Dear David,

The Government has launched an independent review into their Net Zero Strategy – the UK’s official plan to tackle the climate crisis – and they want our views. [1]

We already know these plans are not good or thorough enough. In fact it’s so weak that in July this year, the high court ruled the Government had to go back to the drawing board to properly explain how their strategy will achieve its targets. [2] They have been given until April 2023 to figure this out – a worrying fact when some of the targets need to be met by 2030!

This consultation is our chance to make the Government take the climate crisis more seriously. If enough of us share our views, we can make sure they set targets that are both realistic and ambitious. Something our country and planet desperately needs. But it’ll only work if enough of us get involved before the consultation closes on Thursday.

David, can you complete a short survey about the Net Zero Strategy – and help the Government to take the climate crisis seriously? It will only take a few minutes, and once you’ve filled it in we’ll submit it to the consultation along with the views of thousands of other 38 Degrees supporters:

SHARE MY VIEWS

So what is actually in The Net Zero Strategy? It has a ten point plan covering various aspects of British life:

  • By 2030, the Government wants to quadruple offshore wind capacity which will generate more power than all our homes use today. [3]
  • £385 million will be invested in the coming years to develop nuclear reactors to provide energy to UK households. [4]
  • New petrol and diesel vehicles will not be sold in the UK from 2030 onwards. [5]
  • And 600,000 heat pumps are to be installed into UK homes every year until 2028. [6]

This strategy may seem to push us in the right direction, but various organisations and the House of Lords have argued it does not go far enough, and focuses on the wrong areas. [7] For example. 600,000 heat pumps sounds great, but we’ll need millions of them to actually make a difference. [8] And crucially the strategy fails to mention where the funding for all of its goals will be coming from as well. [9]

So we need to push back and get them to increase their ambition! It certainly won’t be the first time 38 Degrees supporters have taken part in a consultation and pushed the Government to rethink their plans. Over 40,000 of us took part in the consultation for the privatisation of Channel 4 and managed to halt the plans to sell it off. [10] Now we need to do the same for our environment and planet – but it will only work if all of us get involved.

So, can you share your views on the Government’s Net Zero Plans via a quick survey now? The consultation closes on Thursday so we don’t have long!

SHARE MY VIEWS

Thanks for all that you do,

Simma, Megan, Angus and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] Gov.uk: Review of Net Zero: call for evidence
The consultation on the Government’s site is very long and technical, so we’ve replicated it on the 38 Degrees site and only included the questions relevant to members of the public.
[2] The Guardian: Court orders UK government to explain how net zero policies will reach targets
Sky News: ‘Landmark ruling’ sees government’s net-zero strategy ruled ‘unlawful’
[3] “Point 1: Advancing offshore wind”
HM Government: The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution
[4] “Point 3: Delivering New and Advanced Nuclear Powe”
HM Government: The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution
[5] “Point 4: Accelerating the Shift to Zero Emission Vehicles”
HM Government: The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution
[6] “Point 7: Greener Buildings”
HM Government: The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution
[7] Financial Times (paywall): UK lacks ‘credible plan’ to drive net zero transition, Lords report warns
UK Parliament Committees: UK will miss net zero target without urgent action, warns Lords committee
[8] See note 7
[9] See note 2
[10] 38 Degrees: 250,000 people say: Keep Channel 4 public
Financial Times (paywall): UK government ‘re-examining’ Channel 4 privatisation plan