Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Nick Clegg and the price of fuel

Nick Clegg got through his first PMQs unscathed and the commentators have been quite complimentary.

For instance, Michael White writes:
How did he do? Quite well, I thought, watching it on TV like most people do, though colleagues actually in the chamber report that his voice is too soft to allow him to overcome the background hubbub with ease.

Plenty of time to sort that out, important though it is. Sharp-eyed students of the weekly drama might also have spotted that he moved three seats along from the traditional leader's corner seat, so he appeared surrounded by colleagues - "doughnutted" as they say - rather than isolated.
That doughnutting was forecast on this blog yesterday, of course.

White also implies that Nick Clegg's decision to ask about fuel costs may have been a good one:

Steve Webb, the Lib Dems' left-leaning social policy expert (who backed Clegg over Huhne) later chipped in with a back-up question. The typical family is paying £300 more a year than four years ago and that sum more than wipes out the winter fuel allowance, he pointed out. The PM reminded him that the allowance used to be just £20.

It left me wondering whether, with higher prices and the growing risk of brown-outs and even blackouts in the colder winter months, the energy giants - many of them foreign-owned - are not set to become the public bad boys they have long been in the United States. When the Daily Mail writes about them treating Britain like "Treasure Island" it's time for them to sit up and concentrate.

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