Huffpost UK Politics uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Iain Wright Headshot

Only Labour Have the Courage to Do Something About the Cost of Living

Posted: Updated:

Next week, David Cameron is going to use the Tory Party conference to boast that he has fixed the economy. However, for the millions of Britons dreading the onset of winter, wondering how on earth they are going to afford to heat their homes, the economy is not fixed. It's broken - and only Labour has the courage and the vision to do something about it.

Britain is in the midst of a cost of living crisis. For 38 of the 39 months that Cameron has been in power, wages have failed to keep pace with prices, making people poorer.

Soaring gas and electricity bills have played a major role in this squeeze in living standards. Constituents have written to me in despair because their electric company has put their bills up just as the cold weather starts to kick in.

Families who were once comfortably off and getting on fine are now just one faulty fridge or broken down boiler away from real hardship.

Energy companies, meanwhile, have never had it so good. Whether energy prices go up or down, their profits get bigger and bigger.

David Cameron has made lots of promises about getting people on cheaper tariffs and insulating people's homes through the Green Deal. He has broken them all. Four out of five households are still on the wrong energy deal, paying more than they need to. Support for people struggling to pay their bills has been cut in half. And just 12 households have benefited from the Green Deal.

For Cameron, soaring bills and fuel poverty are part and parcel of the race to the bottom on wages and living standards that he thinks is Britain's future. This means Cameron will never take on the vested interests and failing markets that rip off working people. He doesn't have the strength to stand up to the strong.

Ed Miliband has shown that he is different. Under his leadership, Labour is prepared to fight for ordinary people and to restore the historic link - understand by the great British people for many years - between economic growth and rising living standards for all.

If elected, a Labour government would freeze energy prices until 2017. This will benefit millions of families who deserve a break from the relentless upward spiral of fuel bills. We will also call time on the secret price setting and backroom deals that govern how energy prices are set. This transformation will be overseen by a robust new regulator that will have the power to act when competition fails.

As well as delivering a better deal for consumers, we will act to give investors the confidence and certainty they need to invest in our green energy future. Businesses tell me, in my role as shadow business minister, that we in Britain have enormous potential and strengths to lead the world in renewables and innovative low carbon technology. But uncertainty is stopping enterprise and potential in this modern industry to be fulfilled. We will give the Green Investment Bank borrowing powers to support investment and pledge to decarbonise the economy by 2030.

Instead of Cameron's global race to the bottom, let's have a race to the top. Let's have the most transparent efficient energy market in the world. Let's be world leaders in cutting edge green technology and among the first to make the transition to a non-carbon future. Unlike David Cameron, we believe that Britain's best days lie ahead.

Around the Web

BBC News - Ed Miliband: Labour would freeze energy prices

Labour's insane energy policy could cause blackouts | The Times

Labour publishes Policy Review document on Energy Market Reform

Labour + Climate change | Politics | The Guardian

Labour neglected energy crisis 'for a decade' - Telegraph

Centrica warns Labour energy plan risks 'ruin' for firms

Miliband's U.K. Utility Breakup Plan Threatens Investment

Labour leader Ed Miliband defends UK energy reform pledge

UK Energy Stocks Burnt on Labour's Ed Miliband Price Fixing Pledge