The energy market in gas and electricity is one of Britain’s success stories. It was an extraordinary feat of imaginative policy making to introduce competition, not just in the capital markets via privatization, but for consumers and retailers too.
This won’t stop the politicians trashing the whole thing, though.
Using as their excuse some minor flaws in the way the energy market operates, all the main parties are gunning to re-regulate, which will inevitably make things worse.
Partly this is to do with distracting attention from the renewable energy subsidies they’ve fisted on consumers, which is one of the two main reasons behind the price rises (the other is higher global demand for fuel). But this is also part of the inevitable cycle of democracy.
As I point out in my article for Think Scotland this week, politicians can’t resist intervening in the economy in order to target benefits at voters. Only once the relevant sector has been regulated almost to death does the dynamic reverse and we get de-regulation once more.
The cycle happens at different times in different sectors, almost regardless of who is in power. So at the moment, absurdly, the government is re-regulating energy while de-regulating education and health.
And in the end it’s bad for liberty and bad for society too, as I point out here.