Ignorance surrounding energy prices

I attempted to watch Question Time, for the first time in quite a while. I used to really enjoy the program, and was quite sad when I realised just how repetitive and pointless it was. Viewers are bombarded with an endless cascade of party politics, after which they have learnt nothing. Those who represent the three parties are so bogged down in each other’s mistakes that they fail to see obvious truths. The occasional brave man who says something interesting is either ignored, or says something that makes me want to reach through the TV and slap him.

Today was no different. Although it shames me, the only person on the panel defending Socialism was Diane Abbott, for whom I have a dislike stronger than any geographical divide. Her flustered, broken way of speaking leaves her unable to win any crowd without a solid helping of populism and lies, over simplifications and half-truths. Of course, any Conservatives in the room will spot her and swoop in for the kill like vultures.

The first and most important issue on the agenda was Ed Miliband’s promise to freeze energy bills. Initially, this news warmed my blackened communist heart, but after I’d thought about it, I realised the truth was quite different. I would be the last person to put blind-faith in free markets, that doesn’t, has never and will never work, and always results in ludicrous levels of exploitation and waste. But after watching fifteen minutes of Question Time, I dawned on me that the Tories were right, just this once.

Freezing energy bills would only make the ‘big six’ hike prices in the short-term, in anticipation of Miliband’s election. I know that energy prices are affected by the global economy, and that without substantial control of a market, there can be no control at all. Perhaps a blind faith in government intervention is just as infantile as blind faith in markets. In fact, that’s definitely true. Whilst I appreciate Ed Miliband’s good intentions, he hasn’t quite found the mark, (although as you can probably tell, I have).

My alternative is one I’ve written about, spoken about, shouted in frustration about for some time. ‘Nationalisation of the Railways and Utilities’ is a phrase often bounced around by left-wingers, particularly Greens and their ilk. The underlying problem here is that whilst we can temporarily meddle in markets, the effects of our work would soon be undone by cash-groping fingers, because at the end of the day, the ‘big six’ are in search of profit and profit only.

If we were to entirely take the ‘big six’ (that is the six largest energy providers in the UK) into the public fold, we could ensure that prices stayed low permanently, and we could also ensure that Green initiatives are given the right support. No matter what the ‘occasional brave man’ says, the cost of living is an important issue, one which will not be easily solved by blaming wind turbines. Osbourne’s shameful attempt to disguise his own failure by stripping the green subsidies, which add £112 to the average bill each year, was ludicrous and embarrassing. A large part of this is the Feed-in Tariff scheme, which replaced government grants in 2010 to reward households with micro-generators. Your energy provider gives you money, and passes on the bill to its other consumers, rather than the pay cheques of its top executives. It then blames ‘misguided green initiatives’ for the higher prices.

Man made climate change is recognised by 98% of scientific papers that are published on the matter. But still some people refuse to believe it, insisting that it’s an international hoax to revert our economies back to central planning. I propose that we nationalise the six largest energy providers in Britain, and enforce a pay structure which allows us to continue saving our environment, whilst refraining from off-loading our bills onto consumers.

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Greenpeace activists had drugs on-board

This is an interesting little segment of news, that amuses me but doesn’t surprise me. And why should it? A ship of well-meaning hippies that floats around the Seven Seas, harassing oil rigs is just the place where we are likely to find that sort of stuff (that stuff being opium straw and morphine). This revelation is highly questionable, as we are entirely dependant on Russian authorities for the information. Which is never good. Greenpeace deny it of course, and so on and so forth.

What’s really interesting about this case is the question which is underlying: Should international vigilante groups be able to roam the seas, generally making a nuisance of themselves to oil-rigs and other such enterprises?

My environmentalist heart says yes, the part of me which wants to be A.N. Wilson says no. Violence is never justified, unless used by a government. Although it sounds silly to say, its a rule we generally abide by. The Taliban uses violence to achieve its ends, and we hate it because we dislike its ends. I wonder how we would feel if the Taliban were campaigning for compulsory MacDonald’s? I would like to say that our opinion wouldn’t change, but the West has been known to support more than one or two questionable regimes and groups in its effort to spread disgusting, force-fed consumerism across every inch of the earth’s surface.

Why should it be any different for Greenpeace? I believe their cause is excellent, and worth defending, and I’m not overly keen to compare them to the Taliban.  But equally, there can be no justification for direct action of a violent or destructive nature. To believe that one cause is so special as to deserve exception from that rule is to go against logic.

On another level, what Greenpeace stands for, and its end goal, is something most would find it hard to argue with. Oil drilling is a process whereby the sea bed is pierced by a long drill, in order to obtain crude oil. That crude oil is then fractionalised into various sorts of fuel which are burnt to power our factories, schools and hospitals, not to mention our thousands upon thousands of Ipads. The burning of hydro-carbons result in water and Carbon Dioxide, which pollutes our atmosphere and traps the sun’s heat, causing the ice-caps to melt, and sea levels to rise.

Which we shouldn’t be overly keen about, considering that human civilisation is mapped mostly along the coasts:

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Republican tantrums

Something that makes me completely furious, apart from the Daily Mail, is when right-wingers attempt to take the moral high ground. You can tell they don’t go there often,  because they act all uncomfortable and awkward, like they haven’t quite gotten used to the feel of the place. Left-wing scroungers like me have been occupying the moral high ground for some time now, and its a damn liberty that conservatives should seek to usurp that. The reason it grinds my corn is this: Republicans and Conservatives have long sold their tickets on the impression of quiet competence, and realism. They paint pictures of an efficient society that anyone would prefer to the hippy-dippy nonsense that Caroline Lucas wishes to install. Now that’s bad enough. Allowing corporations to rip-off their employees, consumers and the government under which they are supposed to be working will eventually lead to a society far less efficient than one of more humanitarian persuasion.

Rarely do right-wingers attempt to portray themselves as moral, largely because their numerous spin-doctors are well aware they have little chance of selling such a huge lie. In the past ten years, spectators on the right have attempted to change that. As politicians of all shapes and sizes (Tony Blair) sold themselves to the man and moved into a centre ground, politics has not only become more boring, but filled with more lies. It’s not so much that right-wingers attempt to portray their policies as moral, but the techniques of left-wingers as immoral. Only recently have we come to know the haughtiness and superiority that right-wingers now exude, like some sort of toxic sludge. They appear to believe that the left is more prone to underhand tricks and hypocrisy. That’s nonsense.

The Republican Party in America has a reputation the world-over for childishness, and for throwing tantrums when it doesn’t get its misguided, moronic way. An example that thrusts itself to the forefront of my mind is the juvenile games Republicans are playing in Congress. Since the election which lost Obama the House of Representatives, the Republican Party has made its singular mission to obstruct Obama’s plans at every level, and to make his presidency a nightmare. Contrary to whatever unclear hopes they may have had, the American public have come down firmly on Obama’s side, expressing an understandable disdain for elected officials who would rather play games than do their job, whilst federal employees (and everyone else) suffers.

The Watergate scandal is something that I am loathe to mention, and in fact, if it was an isolated crime then I would ignore it. But it simply adds to the pile of Republican misendeavours which has given them a black name. (Yes, joke)

Is there anything so useless as the Daily Mail?

The Daily Mail, famed worldwide for its shameless dirt-digging on members of parliament, and for its online site that verges on becoming a soft-porn channel, reached new depths of contempt this week.

I’ve written before about Ed Miliband. I view him as a slightly laughable figure who should win the next election by an ironic stroke of luck; UKIP’s appearance in politics has done two things, firstly to create a culture of mistrust and ignorance amongst the electorate, and secondly to give Labour the helping hand they need. By splitting the right wing vote, Nigel Farage and his ‘swivel-eyed loons’ have given Miliband the best shot he could hope for of winning the next election.

But whatever I feel about Ed Miliband (a mixture of amusement and intrigue), I share his disgust at the Daily Mail’s loud boast of his father’s hatred for Great Britain. I have read the article, and the numerous follow-ups which trumpeted ‘The Mail will never apologise!’ The main body of the original article seems to consist of a description of an ordinary Marxist, without any evidence for Ralph Miliband’s ‘hatred’ for his adopted country.

Ralph Miliband was a Jew from Brussels, who fled the Nazi onslaught to the safety of Britain. He made a life there, and even fought in the Royal Navy during the Normandy landings. Interestingly, a photo of the Daily Mail’s founder socialising with Hitler himself has been circulating on Twitter:

View image on Twitter

The only evidence the ghastly man (Geoffrey Levy) can find to substantially smear his victim to the degree that his readers are accustomed was this: “The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world . . . you sometimes want them almost to lose (the war) to show them how things are . . . To lose their empire would be the worst possible humiliation.”

In this case I have to agree with Ed, and what he said in his response: “To ignore his service and work in Britain and build an entire case about him hating our country on an adolescent diary entry is, of course, absurd.”

Even if Ralph Miliband was guilty of a greater crime than the sickening corruption of socialism, I fail to see what business the Daily Mail has in harvesting family photos of political figures. Truthfully, one of the captions was: “On Holiday” –below a picture of Miliband standing with his mother and aunt. The fact that these paranoid hacks can showcase your family history to their entire readership, and still call it ‘political comment’ is both astounding and terrifying.

The Daily Mail, however, has built its odious reputation for shady morals, inflammatory headlines and a never-ceasing paranoia about socialism over many years. It has such an obsession with that dreaded word, that any excuse to smear a left-winger and associate him with extremist factions is too golden an opportunity to miss. If the Mail or its readers think this overly harsh, they need only review their own history to know that I’m right.

But for all that, Miliband has come off this business far happier than he went in. It gave him an excuse to openly boast of his father’s military past, without appearing to do so blatantly. It has shown the Daily Mail, one of his harshest critics among the press, in a very dark light. On the whole, the public appear to have taken Ed Miliband’s side on this, which is good to see.

But never believe that the Mail might have learnt its lesson. It never does.