(In the latest of a series of alternative manifesto ideas on TCW, Andrew Cadman sets out his ideas on energy policy)
The facts of life are conservative. Unfortunately, our elites are not: in just about every area of government, policy is motivated by a sanctimonious metropolitan liberal ideology that sees it as a divine mission to control and manipulate all the little people it distrusts and despises.
This is nowhere more true than in energy policy, where a once functioning free energy market has been replaced by interventionist policies that have cartelised the market, greatly increased prices and reduced competitiveness. Now, in desperation, the ever-malleable Tories are proposing a clumsy and probably unworkable price cap to redress the balance.
Brexit shows a better way: where policy is democratised and choice given, conservatism will triumph, and the people will benefit. In that spirit, here is TCW’s alternative manifesto policy on energy.
Ban ownership of utilities by firms owned or partially owned by foreign governments
A free market should be free of political interference. Firms owned by governments will make decisions that are distorted by domestic political considerations, or even worse as a way of asserting diplomatic pressure on the UK government.
Climate change levies should be a matter of personal choice
Freedom includes the right to make free moral choices. Energy policy is entirely dominated by an obsession with so-called “man-made global warming”, with a result that the UK government has signed us up to the mass decarbonisation of the energy sector, with 75 per cent of power generation required to come from renewables by 2030.
Even if you believe that the “warmists” are right, the fact remains that without global agreement on fossil fuel emissions unilateral action on cutting them is worse than pointless: Britain accounts for just one per cent of emissions, and ruinously high energy prices merely transfers industrial production abroad to more lax jurisdictions. Such self-harm is utterly futile in the extreme.
It is also morally pernicious. Energy is a utility, so high prices affect the poor the most as well as threatening the few remaining well-paid industrial jobs, especially for working class men. Meanwhile, the elites get to virtue-signal at little cost to themselves.
Just as consumers can make ethical choices on what food they buy or clothes they wear, so they should be able to do so on energy. This would entail:
- A total scrapping of all mandatory green energy regulations and targets and the reintroduction of the free market.
- Energy supply firms forced to offer tariffs based on different forms of energy production so that people can make ethical choices based on their beliefs and personal circumstances. Failure by the suppliers to buy energy from sources in line with their customer choices would lead to heavy fines, the proceeds of which would directly to energy research that may benefit all humanity in the future.
- Producers of consumer goods that require high energy consumption in their manufacture will have to label their produce with the energy sources the firm has used in their production, once again giving consumers the right to make moral choices as part of a competitive market.
Devolve Energy Policy
Our system of government is grotesquely centralised, with revenue collection and redistribution being dominated by Westminster. Consequently so much of policy in all areas is dictated to by the needs and prejudices of London and the South East.
A devolved energy policy will allow us to redress the balance: where possible allow local councils to keep the revenues from the licensing and taxation of locally produced power from sources such as fracking and wind turbines, thereby incentivising both development and competition, as well as giving local communities much more control over the development of their own economic eco-systems.