Monday, 4 August 2008

New Labour has 'lost mandate to govern' as charities warn thousands of winter deaths loom

As the energy crisis takes another bite out of household budgets this week, charities including Friends of the Earth and Help the Aged have warned that thousands of people are likely to die from the cold this coming winter. It's becoming increasingly clear that we need some joined up thinking on this - and quick - if we are to avert the twin disasters of fuel poverty here in Brighton, Kemp Town, Peacehaven, and the rest of the UK, and the most devastating impacts of climate change, which are already taking their toll on millions of the world's poorest.

But the Government wants to take us in entirely the opposite direction: diverting cash from efforts to tackle climate change into simply cutting bills in the short term. If telling the energy companies what to do is going to really help the poorest, wouldn't it be better to take a long term view, forcing them to spend their gargantuan profits on more lasting measures, like better insulation, home energy conservation, or even trying to increase renewable micro-generation possibilities?

But no - as usual the Government is proposing policies for next 100 days, not the next 100 years. It's no wonder that Friends of the Earth have issued perhaps their 'hardest' anti-Labour statement in recent years this weekend.

A spokesperson for the environmental charity told The Observer newspaper yesterday:

'This New Labour government has managed to construct a fuel poverty strategy which has both increased fuel poverty and carbon emissions, letting down millions of the most vulnerable in society and condemning thousands to die of the cold this winter. On this basis I believe they have lost the moral mandate to govern.'

Blimey. Perhaps that's something for Simon Burgess to think about next time he accepts an invitation for a chummy photo opportunity with Brighton Friends of the Earth - and vice-versa.

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