British Gas price hike makes Ed Miliband look the smart one

Cost-of-living issue back centre stage - and Cameron has no answer to Miliband's popular price freeze

Column LAST UPDATED AT 11:10 ON Thu 17 Oct 2013

EYE-WATERING price rises of 10.4 per cent on electricity and 8.4 per cent on gas announced this morning have left David Cameron and George Osborne floundering, while 'Red Ed' Miliband is riding high.

The price rises announced by British Gas, the privatised giant energy company once owned by the taxpayer, immediately caused a backlash for the energy fat cats - and for Cameron who has rejected the Labour leader's recent plan for an energy price freeze without offering an alternative.

Miliband taunted Cameron only yesterday about the lack of action by the government at Prime Minister's Questions over the eight per cent price increase already announced by SSE. Cameron lamely hit back accusing Miliband of a "price con" - but it's Cameron who looks in danger of being left out in the cold.

Miliband caught the public mood when he announced during his party conference last month his plan to freeze prices for 20 months after the next general election if Labour wins power. Cameron flapped, accusing Miliband of trying to turn the clock back to its socialist past in the 1970s when the state controlled prices. But he has failed to find a winning solution.

The size of the British Gas price hike also took industry watchers by surprise. Robert Peston, the BBC's economics editor, tweeted this morning: "Crikey, British Gas pushes up prices 9.2%, even more than SSE. This cost-of-heating, cost-of-living story is big."

British Gas says the rise will add £2 a week to dual fuel bills and that the increase was necessary in part because of the government's "social and environmental programmes".

In effect, British Gas is trying to blame the coalition and the past Labour government - including Miliband when he was Environment Secretary - for some of the extra burden on customers. But that won't cut much ice with the voters who, according to the opinion polls, massively support Miliband's price freeze.

Miliband hit on another eye-catching initiative this morning - a 'Wonga Tax' on the payday loan companies to provide more cash for credit unions, who offer loans at high interest rates to the poor.

Yet again, Miliband is running rings round Cameron and Osborne, and they have little effective response. As The Week has reported recently, crucial polls point to a Labour victory at the 2015 general election. On this showing, Miliband isn't doing anything to spoil that scenario. · 

Disqus - noscript

It is a sad reflection of the stupidity of people if they believe an energy price freeze is sensible...or even possible.

It often seems people believe prices are set by fiat.

This is severely damaging Miliband Junior's remaining credibility. The public can join the dots - Miliband's an utter moron as the rises are mostly down the the policies he ignorantly put forward when he was struggling with high office last time.

How are the polls going for the son of the Belgian Marxist ?

People are now here as stupid as he thinks they are.

The head of the Ofgem should go. In the pockets of the power cos. It is but a paper tiger. Govt is prepared to reduce the increases of the water boards but not of the power cos. hey have too cosy a relationship. Labours price freeze is a good idea but the pre and post increases should not account for the freeze. After all the power cos are also prepared to hold prices as shown by their price fix offers for power users. PM's advise is to switch suppliers but they are in this together and also they will apply the penalty clause, obviously PM does not know about their ruse to trap customers. Has he ever done a switch?

I had to laugh when I read the statement about how the managing director of BG had "agonised" over this decision! Yeah, right! I am sure the poor soul must have truly suffered, while sat in his multi-million pound, WARM, mansion with marble bathroom, while probably eating lobster off a Flora Danica plate with gold Merdinger cutlery! I'd love to see him live in place of some of the elderly and most vulnerable people who die each winter, no thanks to these parasites! And as for our totally inept government, don't even get me started there! I'd write more than a 20 page essay! No country with half a brain would have ever allowed privatisation of key industries such as public transport and energy companies, effectively placing them in the hands of the greedy and selfish. If it was not so tragic, it'd make one hell of a funny comedy!

...has he ever done ANYTHING (outside politics)??

Au contraire, the energy companies fear Milliband might get in, so they hike their prices good and early.

"

Miliband's popular price freeze"
That's right. Free beer is popular. That's the danger with democracy. You can get power by promising to give people lots of other people's money, and when you run out of that, borrow some more. You ruin the country of course, but people will vote for you.