The Socialist 2 October 2013 |
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Energy companies: Nationalise them now!
Pete Mason, East London Socialist Party
Energy companies emit vast amounts of greenhouse gasses (Click to enlarge)
Energy bills have risen by 40% since 2007. 15% of households are living in fuel poverty - crushed by bills and facing an impossible choice: food or fuel? Meanwhile, Phil Bentley, former boss of Centrica, snatched between £13 and £15 million in pay, shares and pension pot when he left earlier this year.
'Competition' and the 'free market' in energy, the fictional big business solution to the endemic corruption and bribery that infests capitalism, has ended in a complete failure - a cartel of six identical money-grabbing companies.
Now, as a result of Miliband's threats - not to nationalise or lower energy prices but merely to limit prices to their current exorbitant levels for 20 months - the big six threaten to pull the plug on Britain's energy supplies and 'freeze the jobs and livelihoods' of the 600,000 workers in the industry.
The vast majority can see that privatisation has proved once again a licence for daylight robbery. Four out of five people realise that the big energy companies 'maximise their profits at the expense of customers', YouGov found last week.
The energy market has 'consistently failed' both the public and the investment needs of Britain, Ed Miliband told the big six. These companies put short-term profit before long-term planning.
Socialists call for the immediate nationalisation of the energy industry (with compensation to those in proven need only) - but let's not leave the old bosses in charge. This is what happened when Labour nationalised the energy and other industries decades ago, retaining the old regime of anti-worker mismanagement, sloth and corruption.
A nationalised energy industry should instead be managed democratically, centred on elected representatives of the workers through their unions, who would remain on a skilled workers' wage. Together with a socialist government, a democratically drawn-up plan for a carbon-free energy industry could then be implemented, guaranteeing existing jobs and creating thousands more.
Drawing in a nationalised transport industry, socialist public ownership can prioritise lower prices and protect the environment, instead of funnelling vast profits, dividends and payouts to a few bosses and big shareholders.
Two-thirds of the population know nationalisation is the right thing to do, but they don't have a mass political party which represents them. Labour rejects this solution. It goes without saying that the Con-Dems are not on our side.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (www.tusc.org.uk), which includes the Socialist Party and the RMT transport union, alongside other leading trade unionists and socialist groups, pledges to 'Invest in a publicly owned and controlled renewable energy' sector and to 'produce for need, not profit, and design goods for reuse and recycling'. Let's make this the music of the future.