Monday, 9 June 2014

A high energy return

GORDON Brown’s speech last week at the launch of the United With Labour campaign in Glasgow contained few surprises.
The former Prime Minister attacked nationalism, provided his usual historical sweep of what he regarded as Labour achievements in government, and said the key benefit of the UK was its ability to “pool and share” resources.
Brown also attacked the SNP from the Left by claiming the Nationalists did not back many current Labour policies.
Warming to his theme, he said the SNP did not support a tax on bankers' bonuses, extra council bands for the most expensive properties, or the restoration of the 50p rate of income tax.
However, as part of his his pitch about the SNP not supporting Labour policies, he said:

“They won’t do a windfall tax on the energy companies.”

This is true. The SNP has not endorsed a tax on the excess profits of the Big Six, but nor has Labour.
Ed Miliband’s policy is to impose a gas and electricity price freeze for the first twenty months of a Labour Government, but no futher.
It seems odd for Brown to attack the SNP for not backing a policy his own party has yet to embrace.
But maybe that is the point. Chuka Umunna, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said of a windfall tax last year:

"These are all things that are being looked at in the context of Labour's policy review and I'm not in a position to make announcements on that right now.”

Brown's comments can be read two ways: either he believes a windfall tax on Big Six profits is a good idea; or he has inadvertently confirmed what Labour is considering for its 2015 general election manifesto.
The price freeze delivered Miliband’s best moment as leader. Perhaps Labour is returning to the same ground for a pre-election shot in the arm.