Just exactly who are Gordon Browns friends I’m not sure, but I am certain he won’t have many amongst the working families and pensioners of the UK.

Some time ago, in the face of utility companies, energy suppliers in particular, banking inordinate profits the government was considering imposing a windfall tax which would then be used to fund pay-outs to the poorest households in the country. An alternative, capping the profit level of these companies, was mentioned but never got a sideways look into the government agenda. The profiteers’ response was to protest and insist they must protect their profits to ensure future investment and developments – just how that works out or for whose benefit was never explained, but maybe that doesn’t matter. The energy companies put their prices up by the most obscene proportions imaginable last year and got away with it; it worked, people paid up, the energy companies liked what they saw, did it again this year and are now wallowing in money.

The government has now changed its tune and is saying they will not go for ‘short term gimmicks or give-aways’ but have been ‘working hard’ and ‘focusing’ on long term measures which will provide households with permanent fuel efficiency e.g. loft insulation. Precisely how you work hard at focusing on loft insulation takes some understanding as fitting insulation and draught excluders is relatively low-tech; these techniques have been around for many years and are readily available either at low-cost or, for some people, free. Even if every available insulation technique were applied to a house it would still need to be heated in winter; insulation doesn’t generate heat it only helps you hang on to it for a little while longer once you have got it. In my own experience these measures make very little difference to a household heating bill, they simply enable the house to remain warmer for longer.

So why has our dear leader Brown changed his mind? This is speculation and is based only on his past behaviour not on any inside knowledge; the talked about handouts would have been funded by a windfall tax but that is not going to happen – no tax revenue, no payouts. And why is there no windfall tax? Because Gordon Brown cannot face up to anyone with power and influence. This has happened before; big business has got shirty over something the government has threatened to do, made a few loud noises and the government has backed down. Name one instance of Gordon Brown standing up to big business. . . . . I’m listening. You can’t remember one? Neither can I. Brown is a political coward. He has no balls, no guts, no fire. He may be a ‘nice man’ but the working families and pensioners need someone who is prepared to fight for them and protect them from corporate greed.

Tony Woodley, of Unite, is quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying –

If greedy fuel companies have won out over struggling consumers then this is not just a disappointing move by the Government but a downright disgrace.

Yes, we need measures to improve fuel efficiency but these should not be paid for by needy people. At this moment in time people need immediate respite from the struggle to pay their gas and electricity bills.

There must be a rethink and cash assistance for every needy household in the land. It cannot be right that big business is allowed to bank their obscene profits while ordinary people will shiver this winter.”

Which just about sums up the situation.