Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Demonstrate against sky-high gas prices
I'll be speaking in a demonstration this coming Saturday in Cardiff. The demonstration is in support of the People Before Profit Charter, a campaign which is making demands to stop ordinary people falling further into poverty.
Recent inflation-busting price rises for gas and electricity will result in six and a half million people throughout the UK suffering the effects of fuel poverty this winter. Many families, disabled people and pensioner households will have to decide whether to eat or to heat themselves. At the same time, the six big energy companies paid £1.64 billion in dividends to their shareholders in 2007 (according to the Local Government Association), up 19% on the previous year.
I fully support calls for a windfall tax on the profits of these companies to make sure that fuel poor households get some help with their bills. However, in the long term, the only way to stop these companies profiteering at the expense of the poor is to bring them into public ownership and under devolved control. If public ownership is good enough for the banks, it should be good enough for the utilities. After all, they provide an essential public service.
Public ownership would mean lower bills, as there would be no shareholder dividends to pay. With further rises likely in the near future, the government would be foolish to rule this option out.
The demonstration will be held on Saturday 27th September at 2pm, outside the British Gas Headquarters, Churchill Way, Cardiff.