Brown is willing to plead with the energy companies to cut their bills now that the price of oil has drastically slipped back, but is unwilling to threaten a windfall tax or even price controls. Perhaps he’s got too much on his mind trying to save the global capitalist system…
Where is the help?
(Tuesday 28 October 2008)
BP chief executive Tony Hayward must think that we are all mugs if he expects us to fall for his claim that his company’s record profits simply mean that BP is well placed to weather the raging storm of recession.
BP and the small group of oil transnationals that dominate the global market are not waging a battle for survival.
They are gorging themselves in a market distorted by speculation, making a mockery of government injunctions to tighten our belts.
While low-paid and hard-working civil servants, health staff and other public-service workers are told to accept pay settlements that are well below inflation, parasitic shareholders sit on their backsides while ever-higher dividends drop into their bank accounts.
BP dividend payments are 60 per cent higher than last year and Mr Hayward is determined that they should continue to grow, because he promised his shareholders that he would do so.
And he has been as good as his word. Whatever the movements in oil prices, BP has delivered massive profit and dividend increases.
BP is yet another former public corporation that was handed over to the private sector, delivering into shareholders’ pockets huge sums of money that could have been used for public benefit.
Millions of people in Britain have been hit by big rises in fuel bills and are worried about how they will be able to heat their homes this winter.
Increased fuel costs have also translated into higher food prices, which have an inordinate effect on pensioners, the low-paid and the poor.
And, on top of that, the financial crisis brought on by the banks’ reckless gambling has resulted in a credit crunch that is causing great difficulties for people with mortgages.
The government has bailed out the banks, but it has no plans to bail out those who live at the sharp end of the crisis.
Where is the help for those who risk losing their homes, for those forced to choose between food and switching on gas and electric fires and for those facing short time or unemployment because of the recession?
Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling dithered for half a year before they nationalised Northern Rock.
They are dithering now over what to do in a situation where a small minority of society is living off the fat of the land and a greater number is wondering how to make ends meet.
New Labour has always resisted the idea that big business and the rich should pay their fair shares, as working people do, towards the cost of a civilised society.
It regards the tendency of the wealthy to employ tax consultants to minimise the amount of tax for which they are liable and to make use of offshore tax havens as understandable and somehow even laudable.
More and more people now understand that the financial burden that the rich refuse to bear has fallen on those least able to pay it and they are fed up to the back teeth with it.
Instead of making excuses for the wealthy and selfish, the government should call time on their antics and impose a windfall tax as a prelude to taking back the entire energy sector into public ownership.