Fracking presents a new challenge for OPEC, as well as opportunities. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that, over the next five years, one-third of the new oil production of the world will be developed in the USA. By 2020, the US will be a net exporter of gas. By 2035. It will be energy self-sufficient, they say...
This week, I went to Manchester to the Tory party conference. Not as a Tory this time, but a happy Ukipper... The excellent IEA event - a 'Fag and a Pint With Nigel Farage' was a chance to showcase the man, our policies, our philosophy and where we stand on many issues. Again, the room was a little cosy and Nigel was on good form. The Tories were in denial that we were there.
To give the Chancellor credit, there is now no serious politician arguing that we don't need to reduce the deficit and find a way to run a balanced budget again in the long-term. Given we are spending almost as much this year on debt interest as we are on education, that is something to be thankful for.
But perhaps the most beneficial effect of a co-payment system would be in its impact on our attitudes as medical consumers. Whenever we pay for something ourselves, we are much less willing to put up with shoddy services. Co-payments would make us much less tolerant of the medical establishment's capriciousness.
With a budget deficit larger than that of Greece, a reduction in public spending is essential if the government wants to achieve sustainable and continuing economic growth. But the ring-fencing of areas of very high government spending has made it much harder for the Chancellor to come remotely close to balancing the books.