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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 February 2006

Gas price rise the biggest in history !

BRITISH GAS is increasing prices by 22%, the second rise in six months; most household energy bills will probably now exceed 1,000. Newspapers call it the biggest gas price rise in British history.

Suzanne Muna

We're told to exercise 'choice' by switching supplier but four other major energy companies also increased prices! Energy isn't a 'consumer choice' - it's an essential service without which we cannot lead our lives. And one 'choice' we certainly don't have is to buy from a non-profit-making nationalised company.

While British Gas shareholders last year divided the spoils of 337 million profits (up 64% on 2004), families struggled to foot gas bills that grew 66% in two years.

The price rises' impact will be felt by 1.5 million UK families living in 'fuel poverty' (or spending over 10% of income on energy costs).

The number of such families had come down from a staggering four million in 2000 but now another 250,000 families are tipped over the edge. The social costs include increased ill-health, thousands of winter deaths, more social exclusion and an adverse impact on children's education.

The 1986 flotation of British Gas was the most expensive privatisation of a public utility. It's still costing us dear. Those with big share portfolios grow very fat indeed, while most of us struggle to pay hyper-inflating household bills. Very few of us will see wage increases of comparable size.

The poll tax impoverished many families until it was defeated by a strong working-class movement comprising public demonstrations and 'can't pay, won't pay' campaigns. Perhaps a similar fight could achieve the renationalisation of public utilities, transport and services!

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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In The Socialist 22 February 2006:

Unite Save pensions, jobs and services

Fight for your future!

Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference

Gas price rise the biggest in history !

Daggers at NHS's heart

Why rural workers need socialism

Bush and Blair's total failure

Car workers fight layoffs

Trade wars and protectionism

Khrushchev: The Stalinist who denounced Stalin

Music industry: Do we only hear his master's voice?

Good Night and Good Luck

Get your May Day greeting into the socialist!

University staff vote to strike over pay


 

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