Labour Must Renationalise Energy Giants!

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CENTRICA, the UK’s biggest energy company, said yesterday that if Labour won the general election in 2015 and brought in an energy price freeze until 2017, the energy giant would quit the UK and the lights, plus most other things, would go out.

Centrica’s position is held by all of the UK energy giants who intend to greet such an outcome of the democratic process with a vicious class war.

In fact, the ‘big six’ energy robbers – British Gas, EDF, E.On, npower, Scottish Power, and the SSE – made total net profits in 2009 of £2.15bn, in 2010 of £2.22bn, in 2011 of £3.87bn, and in 2012 of £3.74bn.

They intend to continue with this massive robbery of the working class and the middle class indefinitely; otherwise, as far as they are concerned, the UK will be shut down, as in the 1973 ‘three-day week’, but this time on a permanent basis.

This is how big business has greeted Miliband’s mild ‘social democratic turn’ to try and get the votes of the tens of millions who have the greatest difficulty in paying their energy and other bills, by imposing just a two-year freeze, after which the race for super profits would resume with a vengeance.

His proclamation that Labour wanted a two-year energy price respite for the tens of millions of the poor also infuriated the Tory Party. It made the amazing discovery that the previously despised Labourite leader’ was now in fact a ‘Bolshevik’.

The threats that have been unleashed by his moderate attempt to win a two-year respite for the poor make it crystal clear that the only future that British capitalism can offer the working class and the middle class is mass poverty.

Miliband said yesterday that the UK had ‘a market that isn’t working’, and that he had written to the big six energy suppliers warning that without changes, taxpayer-funded guarantees to energy firms might not be sustainable. He added that ‘there’s a crisis of confidence in the system.

‘It’s time we fixed it and they can either choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution. I hope they choose to be part of the solution.’

Revealing a fear of revolution, Miliband added that ‘public consent’ for these arrangements depended on consumers getting a fair deal.

His shadow chancellor Balls has already spelt out to the Labour Party conference the Labour leaders’ attitude to the crisis of capitalism. He said: ‘After three wasted years of lost growth, far from balancing the books, in 2015 there is now set to be a deficit of over £90 billion.’

He continued: ‘And I need to be straight with this Conference and the country about what that means. The government’s day-to-day spending totals for 2015/16 will have to be our starting point.

‘Any changes to the current spending plans for that year will be fully funded and set out in advance in our manifesto. There will be no more borrowing for day-to-day spending. And we will set out tough fiscal rules – to balance the current budget and get the national debt on a downward path.’

Balls and Miliband are determined to carry on with the Tory cuts while seeking a little relief for the poor, with a two-year energy price freeze and the ending of the bedroom tax.

These measure are unacceptable to a ruling class whose crisis is so great that it can only survive by ending the NHS and the Welfare State, and by breaking the trade unions through a regime of zero-hours contracts, and temporary working.

Miliband’s plan for an energy price pause is not enough. The trade unions must demand that Labour must renationalise the energy industry, to put an end to the privateers’ ‘mutiny’ and also renationalise the railways and all the privatised industries to deal a body blow to the profiteers and provide a basis for a planned socialist economy.

Miliband’s unveiling of some relatively minor social democratic pledges must not become the basis for the trade unions withdrawing their opposition to his plans to drive the trade unions out of the Labour Party as an organised force.

Much more trade union power is needed in the Labour Party not less. The energy bosses have made it clear by their threats, as have the Tories by their actions, that the time has arrived when British capitalism must be overthrown and replaced by socialism.

The crisis of British capitalism requires a socialist revolution. Only the WRP fights for this perspective. Join it today.