Labour calls for gas and oil rationing to ‘solve’ the energy crisis


THOUSANDS of people took to the streets across Britain on Saturday, demonstrating against the massive increase in energy prices and a cost of living that is spiralling out of control and condemning millions of workers and their families to poverty.

These demonstrations outside Downing Street in London and in major UK cities followed the day after the hike in energy prices, the increase in National Insurance, council taxes and other bills came into effect.

Household bills have jumped to the highest in living memory and public outrage has only just started to express itself as demonstrators carried placards demanding ‘kick the Tories out’ and ‘we won’t pay for the crisis’.

The working class along with youth and large sections of the middle class are on the move and have the Tory government clearly in their sights.

Tory minister Brandon Lewis responded to calls from Labour for the Tories to take ‘urgent action’ over the cost of living crisis saying the government ‘can’t completely nullify the impacts of the global markets and global pressure, for example, on energy, which is obviously the main focus at the moment for most people’.

In fact, the Tories in their enthusiasm for the imperialist war against Russia have ensured that Britain’s gas supplies will be hit even further and prices driven up even more.

This was made clear at the weekend by Russian president Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov who told the press that the UK’s major gas supplier Shell will not be able to buy Russian gas because of anti-Russian sanctions.

Peskov pointed out that despite all the bravado of the other EU countries about not submitting to Russian ‘blackmail’ they have been careful to exclude gas supplies, vital to their economies, by not sanctioning the state owned Gazprombank while the UK has banned all transactions with the bank through which payments for Russian natural gas are made.

By sanctioning Gazprombank the Tories have made it impossible for Shell to pay for Russian gas. Peskov said: ‘London wants to be the leader of everything anti-Russian. It even wants to be ahead of Washington! That’s the cost!’

Although the UK only get around 5% of its gas supplies from Russia, it relies mainly on imports from Norway and the fast diminishing gas supplies from the North Sea oilfields.

Even a 5% cut in gas will mean the UK having to rely on supplies of liquified gas shipped over from the UAE and other Gulf states at a time when the global prices for gas and oil are shooting up to unheard of levels.

The answer to this crisis from the Labour Party leadership was given by the shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Jonathan Reynolds who on Sunday said the Tories should be ‘making plans’ for oil and gas rationing. Reynolds said that the Tories should be planning for rationing ‘not necessarily in public’.

Clearly behind the scenes and kept secret from the working class, plans are being developed by the Tories, with the support of the Labour Party, for energy rationing to be brought in.

Energy rationing would take the form of closing down energy-intensive industry along with domestic energy supplies.

The prospect of millions of workers having their gas and electricity cut off in the evenings and factories closed down for days a week in order to pay for an imperialist war to carry out regime change in Russia is something that the ruling class are keen to keep under wraps until the Tories supported by Labour spring it on them.

The demonstrations on Saturday, along with the unprecedented strike wave over pay, are signs of the fast developing class struggle as workers and youth refuse to see their lives destroyed to keep a bankrupt capitalist system that only survives through wars at home and abroad.

The burning issue today, is for this mass movement to go forward to seize power by demanding the trade unions call a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers’ government and socialism.

This requires urgently building the WRP and Young Socialists to lead the struggle to put an end to capitalism through the victory of the socialist revolution.