Many people in Rochdale, maybe many of you reading this, will already be feeling the financial pinch because of Covid, because times are already tough after the £20 cut in Universal Credit or because energy prices have already shot through the roof. But it didn’t have to be this way. The government got early praise for the support it put in through the furlough scheme and direct support for some businesses when Covid first hit. Then they slammed on the brakes leaving many companies without help and abandoning help for individuals. And as gas and electricity prices shot up, they seemed to be clueless as to how to handle things.
I am totally behind what Keir Starmer and the Labour Party have been demanding of the government not because its good party-political knock about but because it makes sense and it’s fair. We need a windfall tax on the big energy companies. One of those big energy company top managers sounded more like a Mafia boss than a decent member of society when he claimed that their company was now a cash machine as the money keeps rolling in. He was right as they’ve seen prices shoot up for their customers by two and three times, windfall profits at no extra cost or effort. But of course, windfall profits come from somewhere and it’s their customers who are having to fork out to fund this cash machine. That’s why we need that windfall tax on these companies. All this is coming at a time when prices for everything else are growing on a weekly basis.
So what’s the government response? Sadly, it’s not to scrap the rise in National Insurance. Foodbanks across the country are reporting record demand not just from the regular users. Now even a small number of Tory MPs are speaking out against the government and its lack of any credible policy to help people through this financial crisis. We’ve got a government in turmoil with no idea how to move the country forward.
We’ve got a Prime Minister who is spending his time weaving incredible tales about parties he attended when he should be working on plans to make things better. Most people now tell me he’s not fit for office in part because of the lies that have been told but increasingly because he’s lost touch with the reality of the crisis in people’s pockets. It’s time for a big change and that must start at the top.
This article was originally published in the Rochdale Observer on 5 February 2022.