By Andrew Allison, Chief Executive
I never thought that I would be quoting Kermit the Frog in one of my pieces, but I also never thought that I would hear a British Prime Minister quoting the said puppet in the United Nations General Assembly, either. And Kermit was right: it's not easy being green, despite what Boris Johnson thinks. In an irony not lost on most of us, the PM flew to New York to beat the drum for renewable energy, when over here in the UK a summer of very little wind has helped plunge us into an energy crisis. What many of us predicted has come to pass: relying on wind turbines to provide a large percentage of our energy needs is not a viable option.
The speech he delivered to the United Nations General Assembly was full of Boris-isms, and completely lacking in reality. The UK is responsible for around one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. We could all wear our hairshirts and shut down UK PLC tomorrow, but it won't make any difference when China continues to build dozens of coal-fired power stations.
'The rich man in his castle; the poor man at his gate', is the opening line of one of the verses of the hymn, All things bright and beautiful. The reality is that many rich people live the life to which they have become accustomed because of the money they earn from wind turbines on their land, and all of us have to cough-up an additional 23 per cent on our energy bills to pay for them, including some of the poorest in the country. And to make matters worse, businesses are also paying inflated energy bills, making their goods and services more expensive and less competitive.
It's alright for people like Zac Goldsmith, a man sitting on millions of pounds of inherited wealth: he can easily afford to pay more in energy bills. It appears that Carrie Johnson isn't too bothered how much she spends on bills, either, judging by the amount of money it cost to refurbish the flat above 11 Downing Street.
Boris Johnson was elected by voters in the former 'red wall' on a mandate of both getting Brexit done and leveling up. We have left the European Union, although fisheries and Northern Ireland were, as I predicted almost two years ago, thrown under the bus. Leveling up does not mean forcing people into fuel poverty by increasing their bills, and forcing them to replace gas boilers with heat pumps. Leveling up does not mean paying more in taxes, especially when voters were promised that taxes would not be increased. In a great interview last week for The Sun, Ben Houchen, the Tees Valley Mayor (who is also one of our members), said, "As we are coming out of Covid I don’t think it is helpful either to businesses or individuals to start raising taxes. I believe that as a politician you need to stand by what you said. The biggest issue for me is that it was very clear in our manifesto there wouldn’t be any tax rises.”
Ben was reelected in May with 72.8 per cent of the vote. If Boris Johnson thinks he's popular, he has nothing on Ben. He should start listening to him.