Truss Energy Shambles

Truss Energy Shambles 1

Yves here. It looks at if new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss is managing to undershoot even Donald Trump low points, and right out of the box too.

Remember the Trump tax bill? It was an early initiative, designed to secure his position with the Republican party (remember he was then and still is attempting a hostile takeover). The business press roundly criticized the announcement for vagueness. I dimly recall that it was Power Point level sloganeering, when tax and budget types expect far more detail even at the outset. Tax goodies are a Team R speciality, so a slipshod performance here was seen as particularly bad.

It was also a black mark for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (but provided early confirmation of our view that Mnuchin didn’t have the chops to be Treasury Secretary).

However, the tax lobbyists for years had been waiting for years for an opportunity to advance many pet ideas, so they had lots of draft language to toss over the transom. The Trump Administration made ample use of it.

Here the Truss “plan” for energy sounds even more hand-wavey than the Trump initial tax splat. And there’s no army of waiting interest groups to help her figure out which oxen to gore.

By Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant and a political economist. He has been described by the Guardian newspaper as an “anti-poverty campaigner and tax expert”. He is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University, London and Director of Tax Research UK. He is a non-executive director of Cambridge Econometrics. He is a member of the Progressive Economy Forum. Originally published at Tax Research UK

I intended to write a review of Truss’s energy plan yesterday, but events got the better of it.

The most appropriate thing to say is “what plan?”

Truss made the biggest spending commitment she is likely ever to make, but could not tell us what it will cost and will not do so for a month.

For those already in fuel poverty, or near it, this will undoubtedly continue under this plan. Without significant changes to benefits that will be very much worse in 2023/24.

The wealthiest get an absurd and unjustified level of support under the plan, which increases inequality as a result.

Business, public services and charity are in limbo, having no clue as to what help they will get, and with it then only being available for six months at most when households will get support for two years. This seems too little to stave off recession.

Fracking is in, as is oil and gas extraction. It is as if we have no climate crisis. Energy efficiency and renewables – together the cheapest, quickest and most effective way to deliver energy efficiency – were ignored, entirely. This was gross irresponsibility.

And how any of this will be funded we do not know, except there will be no windfall taxes on profits arising from the exploitation of war, which is quite extraordinary and was well dealt with by Keir Starmer.

To describe this as a plan would be too kind. It was nothing of the sort. It was a shambles, issued after she had the whole summer to work out what she would do.

As portents for the Truss premiership go, this was bad, and it followed her first rebuke from the Speaker, who described her government as incompetent.

Truss now gets a respite. After months without government, parliament will not now sit for the ten days of official mourning for the Queen. Then there will be the party conference break. To say government has departed the UK would not be unkind. To suggest Truss did not play her first day well would be generous.

What a shambles.

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