Utility Week

Utility Week 30th September 2016

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Page 9 of 31

10 | 30TH SEPTEMBER - 6TH OCTOBER 2016 | UTILITY WEEK Policy & Regulation Lobby Policy / Party conferences Policy & Regulation Back to my roots With or without the blessing of MPs, Labour's leadership is once more championing socialism. Mathew Beech reports from Labour's conference. B ehind Jeremy's joy in victory, Smith's sorrow in defeat and the debates of divisions and the need for unity within the party, the Labour conference stuck firmly to the socialist ideals of its re- elected leader. The annual conference in Liverpool saw the party continue down the path it set out on last year, although the atmosphere was flat and subdued in the wake of the bruis- ing leadership battle. Interventionism was unashamedly front and centre of the policies put forward by the current Labour shadow cabinet – many of whom can expect a new job title in the imminent reshuffle Corbyn has planned. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell led the line. In his keynote speech he said: "The winds of globalisation are blowing in a different direction. They are blowing against the belief in the free market and in favour of intervention." This was backed up by Labour's new energy policy – which goes above and beyond the democratisation idea put for- ward last year. There is the plan to help create 200 local energy companies and 1,000 co-operatives to take on and help break the dominance of the major energy companies, but the interventionism goes further than creating competitors. In a bid to ensure these new competi- tors have an environment in which they can compete, Labour plans to enforce new regu- lations. It wants to force suppliers to call the standard variable tariff a penalty tariff and make them put customers who have been on it for more than 18 months on to their cheap- est deal, as well as inform them of the best deal on the entire market. The water market has also been warned, with the party talking about breaking up the vertically integrated companies – as well as in the energy sector – claiming this will ensure customers get a better deal because trading will become fairer and more transparent. A policy to ban fracking was unveiled the day before the first shipment of US fracked gas arrived in the UK – although this remains a contentious issue within the party. Internal frictions are still raw and waiting to heal, and the concussion from the Smith- Corbyn battle dampened the atmosphere this year. But what is clear is that Labour is lean- ing to the le once more and if it gains power in 2020 – or before if a snap election is called – it plans to shake up the markets in which utilities and businesses in general operate. "The real reason to ban fracking is that it locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy." Barry Gardiner, shadow energy secretary Mary Creagh, EAC chair "We must not allow the legislation that has cleaned up our environment under successive governments to become zombie legislation with no means of enforcement." Photo: Press Association

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