UP FOR DEBATE: “Energy and a UK Price Freeze”
Bloomberg’s first-ever “Up For Debate” last Wednesday showed Labour and the Liberal Democrats do actually agree on a few things: energy bills are too high; new investment is required; and climate change needs addressing. But the issue of a power price freeze – well that’s another story.
UK Energy Labour shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint called her party’s proposed retail power freeze a “red line” in any future talks to form a coalition government after next year’s election. Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey called the idea a “con” saying: “The Labour Party would want to drop their energy price freeze like a hot potato.”
With neither side polling an outright majority, the Conservatives and Labour may each need the Liberal Democrats to form another coalition government. That’s an interesting prospect, since Flint told the audience her party would never drop the issue: “There’s not a cat in hell’s chance of that. This is our red line, and it’s going to happen.”
Davey said price controls would hurt investment. “Does anyone seriously think we would’ve made progress on renewables if not for Lib Dems?” Labour’s undetailed plan to reform the wholesale market by reintroducing a power pool would also be contentious. Flint took a jab at Davey and party saying: “Let’s watch this space… Liberals are used to changing their mind when they’re actually in government, aren’t they?”
The possibility that the two parties might have to work together after the general election in May 2015 will not be far from either’s mind. A Lib-Lab coalition is one of the possible outcomes of the next elections.