Keir Starmer has declared that he is “not in favour of nationalisation” when rejecting the idea that energy companies should be taken into UK public ownership in a bid to keep profits in the country and lower energy bills.
When LBC caller Annie suggested today that energy companies should be nationalised, as French state owned company EDF’s profits could be going to the UK Treasury, Starmer said: “I’m not in favour of nationalisation.
“There’s different ways of doing business, but the top-down version of nationalisation I don’t think really works and I’m not in favour of that. We may have to look at the models for ownership of energy companies.”
The Labour leader added that the “immediate problem” is how to get through the coming months amid rising energy prices, Universal Credit recently cut, the upcoming National Insurance hike and council taxes set to increase.
“I’m really glad you called, Annie, because there’s been so much focus on the parties et cetera, but I think millions of people are in exactly the same place as you, which is really anxious about how they pay the bills,” he told LBC’s ‘Call Keir’.
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Starmer ruled out nationalising the Big Six energy firms when asked about the proposal on The Andrew Marr Show during Labour conference in September, saying: “No… I do not agree with the argument that says we must be ideological.”
The opposition leader described himself as “pragmatic” about “common ownership”, saying: “Where common ownership is value for money for the taxpayer and delivers better services, then there should be common ownership.”
Ed Miliband, previously Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary but now Shadow Climate Change and Net Zero Secretary, said in October that he sees a “role for public ownership in relation to the energy system” in the UK.
Asked if the energy system should be renationalised, Miliband said: “There are many elements to the energy system – there is generation, there is distribution, there is transmission and supply, and I see a role for public ownership in relation to the energy system.
“But I think we’ve got to get this right. And I think what’s happened is we’ve started off with a very liberalised system. We have as you say introduced, if you like, market constraints including the price cap – we need a fundamental look at this market and there is a role for ownership, yeah.”
One of Starmer’s ten pledges during his leadership campaign was that “public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders”, and he promised to support the “common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.
He also raised his hand, along with rivals Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy, when asked on the BBC’s Newsnight hustings during the leadership contest whether he would renationalise water and electricity.