America’s war in Pakistan threatens our security

UK PM Gordon Brown has said he is “permanently on guard” against the threat of terrorism. (If only the security services had been in 2005 when Saudi intelligence warned of a terrorist attack which killed 52 people.)

Today’s Guardian reveals that Bush is planning a war in Pakistan, something which is sure to increase the chances of another 7/7 occurring here. Secret orders have been signed by the president allowing special forces to operate within Pakistan – even though they do not have permission from Pakistan’s government.

Brown will be compounding the terror threat, which is to a large extent caused by the UK’s involvement in occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, by backing this terror campaign in Pakistan and perhaps sending UK forces across the border from Afghanistan to assist. UK forces in Afghanistan are likely to come under increase attacks as the conflict esculates – leading to more fatalities and injuries amongst service personnel and Afghan civilians.

On Tuesday a US drone killed 23 people in North Waziristan and injured 20 others. Ironically, this was an attack on a school set up by Jalaluddin Haqqani, one of the mujahideen fighters the US backed in the 80s – you know, the foreign fighters who used the porous border to enter Afghanistan…

Pakistan’s armed forces aren’t pleased about US plans to enter the country and wage war on the population – already attacks carried out by drones have prompted the army to cut off Nato supplies. And it is unlikely that Nato forces will be used in these operations – something which is sure to increase the tensions between Nato member states.

End soaring prices – renationalise gas and electricity

E.On executive Mark Owen-Lloyd wasn’t joking when he said that a harsh winter would mean “more money for us“.

Labour backbencher Roger Godsiff has been a leading proponent in calling on Gordon Brown to issue a windfall tax on major energy companies.

He said: “It was a very cynical comment that merely shows the contempt that major energy companies have for the general public.

“The really sad thing is, the joke is true and that’s why we need the windfall tax.”

But there’s no windfall tax – Brown’s lame repackaging of old measures will not cost the energy companies one bit. They’ll pass on the costs to consumers – and then some. Brown’s pledge to eradicate fuel poverty in England is the real joke – it’s set to increase even further!

Delegates at the TUC conference voted to renationalise the public utilities that the Tories flogged off at knock-down prices to their wealthy backers and that are now controlled by foreign interests.

The issue of a windfall tax on the energy companies to fund fuel payments for the poor – the very least that can be done in the present circumstances – will be raised again at the Labour party’s conference in two weeks.

From the latest Tribune:

CAMPAIGNERS are calling for the return of the energy companies to the public sector after the recent inflation-busting price rises for gas and electricity which will leave a million and a half more Britons in fuel poverty this winter.

More than 4.5 million people in Britain are already living in fuel poverty – defined as having to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on keeping warm – and soaring energy bills led the National Consumer Council to predict that number will rise to more than six million.

The Campaign for Public Ownership, which aims to harness public dissatisfaction with privatisation and campaigns for a reversal of “the disastrous policies of the last 29 years”, said: “Calls for a windfall tax are sure to increase following the news that the big six energy companies hiked shareholder dividends payouts by 19 per cent.”

The companies paid £1.64 billion in dividends in 2007 – £257 million more than the year before – according to a study for the Local Government Association.

“While calls for a windfall tax are understandable, the Campaign for Public Ownership believes that the only long term solution to the problem of energy company profiteering is to restore the energy companies to public ownership.

“The problem lies in the ownership structure of the energy companies. All of them are public limited companies, whose overriding aim is to maximise profits for shareholders. That’s what plcs do.

“Instead of reacting with horror to the entirely predictable news that plcs are putting the interests of shareholders before Britain’s long-suffering energy consumers, we should instead be calling for the government to take the one step that will lead to lower energy prices in the long term.

“Restoring the energy companies to public ownership will mean that prices can be lowered as there will be no shareholder dividends to pay.”

Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: “Many of the poorest pensioners will be outraged that while they are worrying about how to afford to heat their homes, energy companies continue to make significant profits and pay their shareholders increased dividends.

“The energy companies and the Government are also sharing in a multi-billion pound windfall gain from the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme.

“We want a substantial proportion of these windfall gains to be recycled to support a new strategy to tackle fuel poverty. Alongside wider reforms, this would be a fair way of balancing the responsibility of the government and the energy industry to help vulnerable customers.”

The National Consumer Council wants energy companies to offer more low cost “social tariffs” with discounts to families on low incomes, older people and those with long-term illnesses and Energywatch wants action across the European Union to break the historic link between oil and gas prices which is hurting consumers.