Today is great red herring day. The Energy Minister tells us the PM feels our pain when we face daylight robbery at the petrol pumps. The PM is valiantly battling for us and for lower prices in Saudi Arabia.
Is this, I ask myself, the same Prime Minister who governs one of the world’s oil-producing countries, who has put up taxes on North Sea production instead of offering tax reductions to encourage new exploration and development? Is this the same PM who as Chancellor presided over large rises in petrol tax, and who as Prime Minister is delighted to haul in so much more revenue from the extra VAT on the higher prices? Does this Prime Minister understand that UK tax is one a half times the amount of the underlying price of the product?
If the PM really felt our pain and wanted to do something about it he could stay at home and save the cost of air travel. He could announce a cut in the duty on petrol to offset the increases in oil taxes he is now enjoying. He could offer tax incentives to North Sea producers to produce and develop more oil production at home. He could make decisions on nuclear and renewables to increase our output of non carbon based electricity.
Instead we are treated to more expensive spin. Let’s hope the Saudis do decide to pump a bit more oil, and let’s hope that shakes some speculators out of the market. It will not, however, change the rip-off at the pumps that comes not from foreign oil producers but from our own UK government. Why won’t he meet the North Sea producers again and say this time that he is sorry for the extra taxes he has landed us with, and will do what it takes to speed extraction in our own oil and gas fields? Instead of blaming foreigners he should see that the UK energy crisis has been made at home. This government has failed to make the capacity decisions needed over the last ten years, and has seen the green argument as a good excuse to put taxes up on many kinds of energy.