• Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook

Search This Blog

Visit our new website.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Miliband vague on most EU issues but categorical on energy

Labour leader Ed Miliband addressed his party conference in Manchester this afternoon. While the focus was on ‘togetherness’, the NHS and his various encounters with members of the public with useful bits for his speech, there were a couple of mentions of the EU and related issues. On the topic he said:
“Let me say it plainly: Britain’s future lies inside not outside the European Union. And the way we reform the EU is by building alliances, not burning them. And it’s why all those who want to leave, including in the Conservative Party, are now a huge threat to the prosperity of our country.”
Miliband went on to add that he saw the need for EU reform in areas such as “the economy, migration and other big issues”. He also cited the UK’s failed opposition to Jean-Claude Juncker’s Commission Presidency as evidence that UK Prime Minister David Cameron cannot achieve reform in Europe, since all countries simply believe he is pandering to his party.

Ultimately the EU section was a side note to the main messages of his speech. Once again there was no detail about exactly which reforms Labour would pursue with regards to the EU, no mention of whether a referendum would be held or not and only vague talk of alliance building with no clear message of how this would be achieved other than by not being the Conservative Party. He also glossed over the fact that the Labour Party ostensibly supported the anti-Juncker push by the UK and that the negotiations over Juncker seem to have resulted in the UK securing a prime post in the new Commission – one many thought they would never get.

Interestingly, there was a bit more detail at one of Open Europe's fringe events with Shadow Europe Minister Gareth Thomas stating that he (and presumably his party) support a red card for national parliaments as well as a specialised European affairs committee to better scrutinise all EU legislation. Certainly commendable if they prove to be concrete Labour policy.

One final interesting point on substance from Miliband regarding energy:
“[We are] making a clear commitment to take the carbon out of our electricity by 2030.”
This is a pretty bold statement (although he did hint at something similar last year), which essentially says that all of the UK’s electricity consumption will be met by renewable sources in 2030. To put that into context current renewable share of electricity generation is around 16%, and is due to rise by to 30% by 2020 – that is if the UK meets its EU set targets (quite a big if at this point).

To achieve the current 2020 target, according to government impact assessment, the Renewables Directive costs £4.2bn per year over the course of a decade. Miliband’s target would essentially involve tripling the increase of renewables over the same timeframe up to 2030 – exactly how much would such a policy cost per year!? (We’d hazard a guess at…a lot). As the graph above from the National Grid shows, most forecasts expect the UK to still have a sizeable chunk of electricity generation from gas and coal, mostly due to the cost and complexity of overhauling the entire grid and the intermittent nature of renewables (note - we have an upcoming paper on these issues and more soon so stay tuned).

All of this also takes place in a context where carbon prices (via the EU ETS) and targets are set and negotiated at the EU level. Will Miliband unilaterally commit to such an approach when it seems likely few, if any, other EU members would sign up to it? We've highlighted before the potential conflict between Labour's energy policy and the EU. Again, more detail needed but at least here there are some interesting questions to chew over.


Rik said...

Probably 2 minus points.

On the EU issue the electorate is simply fed up with empty promises especially when they come from people with a biased background like Mili. Basically on all issues but especially in the UK on the EU it is walking the walk not talking the talk.
Especially here where there is not any proper way described how to get there. Simply looks like empty promises.

The Green stuff is so 2006. People are probably more aware than say a decade ago on the positives.
However in a time of (very) low real income growth for low and middle incomes, money simply talks alot louder. Especially if roughly the rest of the world will not meet that target (not even come close).
Simply put before the choice 0% Carbon or essential parts of the welfarestate the choice will be clear by large parts of Labour's voterbase.
Simply not a votewinner.
Labour's weakness is its cultural conservative part of its electorate. Modern Green will feel sort of at home in present Labour, that part doesnot. It's leadership simply in no way reflects that this is half of its voterbase.
Greens have on top of that at present the choice Labour or not being represented. The social conservative part now have Farage. Who has a realistic chance to get into parliament and is clearly influencing UK politics.

There is another possibility for a split. But again no Green stuff involved. Welfare bunch (more or less permanent living from some sort of welfare) and the traditional workers (who pay in for all sort of things but will benefit only very limitedly thereof when it would be actually required).

So in other words pretty stupid. Wrong targetgroup at extremely high costs. Of which a large part will have to be brought up by better targetgroups (who will not like the higher taxes or less services that will have to pay for that) and that have a realistic alternative. The battle Labour vs Greens is so Continental Europe 1990s.

Average Englishman said...

I cannot believe how much nonsense continues to pour forth from the mouths of UK politicians. They must think the electorate are completely stupid. Regarding specifics, I mostly agree with @Rik's comments.

* A Labour Government would stay in the EUSSR when most of the UK electorate want out - not a vote winner.
* The potential reforms to the UK's relations with the EUSSR are minor and would probably not proceed anyway. There is no answer to the electorate's demand for a major change in the UK's relationship with the EUSSR.
* More green energy is a great idea if reliable supplies can be arranged at £nil extra cost to the consumer but at the moment that is not possible. No voter will thank Labour for even higher energy costs, especially when the World climate continues to defy predictions and the planet is not turning into one big desert.
* Any extra NHS money he might find would be absorbed by all those ex Labour voters freezing in the winter without money to pay for decent heating, courtesy of Ed's extortionately priced green energy.
* Even those voters who do not think much of the current coalition Government (and there are sooooo many), have not forgotten how the last Labour Goivernment almost bankrupted the country, so Ed had better improve his policies for the economy, which he is virtually silent on at present apart from a bit of predictable 'soak the rich' populism via the mansion tax.

Altogether very disappointing for the Average Englishman who has voted Labour in the past. Still, more votes for UKIP will result I expect, so not all bad.

Anonymous said...

NO mention of immigration, the deficit and an English Parliament. Let's not even mention the lack of any economic policy at all other than to spitefully tax what he believes to be the "rich". Spend, Spend and more spend with no governance and controls over OUR money. It all sounds like the EU in miniature.

He glossed over the EU completely, ignoring what the electorate increasingly want.

Labour are completely unelectable - as are the EU.


Patrick Barron said...

"Shadow Europe Minister Gareth Thomas stating that he (and presumably his party) support a red card for national parliaments as well as a specialised European affairs committee to better scrutinise all EU legislation. Certainly commendable if they prove to be concrete Labour policy."

How can Open Europe support something that is a complete negation of rule by the people? When did Englishmen decide to give up self-rule and accede to the wishes of unelected foreign bureaucrats?

Average Englishman said...

@Patrick Barron.
I totally agree with you Patrick.

If I lived at No. 12 Bloggs St and my neighbour Mr. Meuller at No. 13, would it be 'commendable' for Mr. Mueller to be able to order me how to behave in my own home so long as my wife first has the ability to query the details before I am obliged to comply?

I think not and it seems to me that the relationship of the UK and the EUSSR in this respect is no different.

R Davis said...

The political arena has to play the game.
In Australia it looks like the newly elected prime minister Tony Abbott & his party will loose the next election.
"mate ! what happened"
As opposition leader he spat out a few smart mouthed comments at times & some peculiar faces were made - meaning who knew what.
As P.M. you can see that he is not the full quid for real.
Right - so we know he is going to loose the next election for sure.
Bill Shorten who could not win a chook raffle to save his life is the opposition leader.
But the Lib's are scared they will loose the next election -
Now - guilt or innocent Bill is stuffed for sure & the only thing the party can do is to GET RID OF HIM PRONTO.
Do the do this ? - NO
Why not ? - they had better get a move on & choose a new leader the next election is coming up soon.
BUT Tony Abbott continues on with more stuff ups & there is even more fear that he will loose the next election.
What to do, what to do.
Lucas Heights is a tourist area promoted by Tourism Australia -
5 Muslim men & 2 Muslim children stopped to have a pee & the FEDS on mass charged like lightening to see what was goin' on mate.


R Davis said...

I emailed MY LOCAL FEDERAL MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT KELVIN THOMSON & TOLD HIM IN NO UNCERTAIN TERM "innocent or guilty Bill Shorten is finished & he must go or else & the party need to move on"
Anthony Albanese is not an option either.
I am not a Labor voter - I am very worried as to how much damage the 1/2 wit that is the P.M. will do to an already struggling Australia.