Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Happy New Year, hope you had a good one and hope this year is a great deal fairer and more just than the one we have just waved goodbye and good riddance to. And since I expect the appalling levels of fuel poverty in Scotland to again dominate the headlines this year lets begin 2013 with some good news. The redoubtable Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, has again stood up to the global corporations by taking the electricity supply industry in his beleaguered South American country into public hands. It turns out that appalling levels of fuel poverty are not confined to Scotland as Scottish Power's parent company Iberdrola were also extorting money out of the poor people of Latin America. The Spanish owned energy giant had been charging poor people in Bolivia three times as much for their energy as its wealthier customers. The difference between here and Bolivia is that as soon as their Government learned of this scandal they didn't tell people to switch their supplier, or cut down on their all too meagre consumption or advise them to get their slums better insulated. No, Morales immediately seized Iberdrola's assets and announced they were now owned by the Bolivian people themselves saying 'We were forced to take this measure because the electricity charges were unfair and unequal. Public interest is above private interests when it comes to the supply of electricity.' Observers of Bolivian politics will of course be aware that attempts to privatise the public water supply in Bolivia more than a decade ago and sell it off to European corporations, led to a mass popular uprising from which Evo Morales was elected. Few people in Scotland will need reminding that those customers on Power Cards and prepayment meters [pensioners, the disabled, those in receipt of state benefits and the low paid] face the highest tariffs for gas and electricity in this country. Scottish Power, like all five of their competitors, has doubled the price of gas and electricity over the past 6 years just as wages, pensions and benefits have plummeted in real terms. Consequently Energy Action Scotland reported there are now one in three families in this country living, that should be shivering, in fuel poverty. And in recent weeks it announced the numbers experiencing 'extreme fuel poverty' i.e. spending more than 20% of their entire income on heating and lighting, was at record levels. Where then is the Scottish Evo Morales? Who here is going to indict the 'heads of the six families' as it were for profiteering on energy supplies? Certainly not the Con-Dems, Labour or the SNP! With one million households in this country now facing a miserable 2013 none of the miserable parties at Westminster or Holyrood is prepared to follow Evo Morales’s

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