I tweeted this idly yesterday:
So what’s the punishment for corporate blackmail? Or is it simply not illegal, like so much out there? #EnergyPriceFreeze #BlackoutThreat
Essentially it would seem that, as a first horrible step, some of the energy companies themselves, and now their political nominees the Tories, are doing for the energy industry what the bankers have achieved for financial services: make latterday greed and laziness overtake a former efficiency and ingenuity. By threatening the nation with energy blackouts down the line, they are committing serious and life-threatening blackmail on an industrial scale. “If you don’t agree to higher prices as per our demands, we will guarantee that blackouts take place.” No spirit of striving to do better against the odds; just promises to scrounge even more out of rapidly emptying pockets. This luxury is not allowed for the sick, disabled and generally struggling: whilst the energy corporations can continue to run their cash cows, the rest of us have to use our natural nous – nous they would claim not to have – to battle our individual ways out of very individual miseries.
As Peter Tatchell reminded us a few hours ago:
UK national minimum wage up by 75% since 1998 but gas cost up 175%, bread up 146%. Poor being squeezed @UKuncut
And that is the cost of living crisis Ed Miliband’s Labour is now foregrounding. That is the reason this energy blackmail is so disgraceful. For, in truth, these cash-rich suppliers – even if right about possible blackouts – care zero, zilch, in no way at all about those individual families already forced to black out their homes due to the horrendous increases in the cost of basic needs such as food, housing and energy in particular.
Just like the Tories, this. Just like the Tories of old. Just as a spiralling private debt makes the levels of public debt less unacceptable, so permitting an ever-increasing private suffering through the food versus fuel dilemma makes public acknowledgement – ie mainstream-visible recognition - less necessary, less likely and less possible.
To summarise, then: those energy companies of a mind to be this cruel, and those Tories in political cahoots with such unkindnesses, terrify the defenceless with the thought of blacked-out freezing winters, where all of us must share – in the unavoidably public domain! – seasons of national discontent. They demand, in exchange for secure supplies, exorbitant prices which, by the by, maintain their equally cash-rich shareholders happy. They deliberately forget, ignore and brush under so many living-room carpets the fact that hundreds of thousands of families – maybe millions! – are already being forced to turn off the heating.
You idiots! There’s little point in guaranteeing energy supplies to a wider public if too many of them simply cannot pay what you prefer to charge. What kind of service is that? What kind of economy does this? Managing demand through pricing policies instead of strategically meeting supply? Is that what we’re now at – even here? Even in basic sectors such as fuel? Even when people’s lives are at stake?
Let’s change the frame. Let’s change the focus. If the disabled have to make do with far less than is humanely reasonable, and even then must still battle fiercely not to tip over into poverty, despair and suicide, let us make it clear to the energy corporations that they must now equally use their ingenuity to protect our futures.
You’re not telling me, surely, that what a disabled person must strive to achieve in Cameron’s Britain is beyond the capability of a mighty British corporate organisation … Oh. But I forgot. Not all of the energy companies are actually British. Nor would they behave in exactly the same way in their own countries of origin.
Funny that, eh? Bloody ROFL time.