Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Bishop bashing the energy companies

An archbishop with a background in business is urging the energy companies to “act with generosity, rather than just maximising profit.” (BBC News Website 20 October 2013)

But surely, the conservatives will chorus, businesses are obliged to maximise shareholder value and it’s our pensions that depend on them doing that?

He goes on, however, to make the point:

“They have control because they sell something everyone has to buy. We have no choice about buying it,” he said.

“With that amount of power comes huge responsibility to serve society.

“It is not like some other sectors of business where people can walk away from you if they don’t want to buy your product and you are entitled to seek to maximise your profit.

“The social licence to operate of the energy companies is something they have to take very, very seriously indeed.”
BBC ibid

This highlights the issue of unrestrained market forces (that so many Tories seem to advocate) rather than a dysfunctional market that needs to be moderated to reflect the wider concerns of society (arguably the Social Democratic model).

Yet when a politician advocates intervention to try to correct the impact of a dysfunctional energy market, he is labelled, shock horror, Socialist.  The label is however applied by the British Press. This is another market dominated by a few major players who seem to believe that they have an almost Stuart-like divine right to rule our thoughts and impose a Conservative or reactionary agenda.

Perhaps eventually people will realise that these newspapers represent discretionary spending and whilst choice is limited, it is possible to “walk away”.

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