Daily Archives: January 10, 2012

I’ll gloss over his cruel treatment by John Humphrys on Today, his 35-minute-late arrival at his own press conference and the hostile questioning by some journalists today.

On matters of substance, did Ed Miliband offer up any new policy?

There was a new idea; forcing energy companies to put elderly customers on their cheapest tariffs. This would apply to all over-75s, many of whom fail to shop around or don’t have internet access.

It’s quite a smart policy and wouldn’t cost the government anything. (Although energy companies are likely to complain that it could impact on their investment plans.) In practice it could also mean other people’s energy bills rising, but for now Miliband was able to deny that potential consequence.

The move follows on from plans, announced at conference, to limit the power of Britain’s “big six” energy companies by stopping them from producing gas and electricity and selling it themselves. (Instead, all their energy would go into a central pool, allowing supermarkets and others to enter the supply market.)

For those who thought that the keynote conference speech about “predators v producers” was too vague, this kind of detail should be welcomed. (We’ll ignore the point that Miliband did little to address these issues as energy secretary.)

There will be more “fleshing out” of the concept of responsible capitalism in the coming Read more

Alex Salmond with David CameronMichael Moore, the Scottish secretary, will address MPs at 4.30pm today to explain why the Westminster government is offering Alex Salmond the chance to hold a legally-binding referendum on Scottish independence.

Ostensibly, the answer is that government legal advice says that any “consultative” referendum could be open to challenge in the courts. But there is another, political reason. If Westminster offers the power to have a referendum, it can also tie in certain conditions.

The two things unionists want to stop are:

  1. Salmond delaying the referendum until 2014 or later, by which time the first minister might have built up a sense of unstoppable momentum and;
  2. A third option appearing on the ballot, dubbed “devolution max”, which might appeal to those nervous about full independence.

 Read more