Shopping in supermarket. Photo: Public domain
Shopping in supermarket. Photo: Public domain

Nationalise big oil

Johnson and his cabinet appear reluctant to take any measures against big fossil fuel companies who are responsible for current and future increases to our energy bills.

We are facing a severe cost-of-living crisis which primarily affects the working class; Johnson and his big business cronies who use the system to their advantage, giving themselves pay rises and huge bonuses, won’t suffer from energy price increases.

The PM falsely claims that the move to nuclear will result in cheaper bills. Moreover, this does nothing for those who are seeing price hikes now, and in October when they rise again.

The Labour Party, with its proposed one-off windfall tax on big energy producers, won’t tackle future years’ price hikes nor bring affordable energy to everyone.

The answer is to nationalise and democratise energy companies, having them run by ordinary people, not in the interests of bosses and profiteers.

Thomas Green, Birmingham

Inflation and benefits

On the day the DWP informed me that my state pension would increase by £11 a month, my energy company, EonNext, emailed to say it was increasing my monthly direct debit by 50%, an extra £40 payment. Going to bed earlier and putting on more clothing won’t shield me from this legal thievery.

Of course, my paltry pension rise is because the Tory government froze the ‘triple lock’ for pensions (whereby the pension rise is whatever is the highest – inflation, average wage growth, or 2.5%) at last September’s inflation rate of 3.1% instead of the current 8%.

Like millions of other households, my council tax has also gone up. And to top off the cost-of-living crisis, food inflation, for most people’s shopping baskets, is about 15%.

OK, so warmer weather is coming and I should go on a diet, but the worst hit to millions on small fixed incomes is still to come. Next autumn, the energy price cap will be lifted again and general price inflation is likely to still be spiralling upward.

Still, I’m sure Rishi Sunak will be empathising with me.

Simon Carter, East London

Wages not profit

During the Covid pandemic every pro-big business government, along with all the energy producers, would have known that when Covid restrictions were eased, economic demand would return.

They deliberately chose not to prepare but to delay so that when they were ready, they could exploit the built-up demand with excessive price increases in order to recover profits ‘lost’ during the Covid shutdown.

The oil giant Shell’s chief executive admitted its booming income was akin to a “cash machine”!

This blatant profiteering should be resisted by the organised labour movement and, as the Socialist says, “launch a determined fight for wage rises at least in line with inflation”.

If profits were hit during the pandemic, workers’ incomes most certainly were, whether it was through furlough, fire-and-rehire, unemployment or sick pay. Now is the time for a ‘Covid recovery’ wage rise!

John Merrell, Leicester

We need free public transport 

One of the hardest-hitting aspects of the cost-of-living crisis has been the increase in fuel prices, making running a car an unaffordable luxury for many. In this context, a free and reliable integrated public transport system is a necessity we must fight for. It is also essential in the battle against climate change. 

Bus travel in Cardiff is owned and controlled by Cardiff Bus, an ‘arms-length’ company wholly owned by Cardiff council. But with its own board of directors separate from any elected body, the company is not subject to the control of even the council, let alone the local community.

Since 2015 the capital city of Wales has been without a central bus station, when the facility was closed to make way for commercial development. This has made it much harder to change buses, especially for disabled passengers. Multiple important routes have fallen victim to cuts over the last decade.

Also in 2015, the Welsh government launched the South Wales Metro plan to create an integrated public transport system. So far, it has delivered little more than the re-branding of existing services.

In 2020, Transport for Wales took over the rail operations from former private operator Keolis-Amey. The Covid-19 pandemic caused a crash in ticket sales, so Keolis-Amey simply walked away from their contract, despite having received £267 million of public subsidies in the previous two years! The losses were nationalised, and the Welsh Labour government picked up the slack.

To begin to tackle the cost of transport and the environmental crisis we need a fully nationalised, integrated, socialist public transport system, under the democratic control of passengers, transport workers, and elected representatives. This would mean that fares could be abolished, by getting our hands on the profits stashed up by former private operators.

Joe Fathallah, Cardiff