Richard Pierce

Politics, Writing

Day 91

All over the EU, governments are making real efforts to ensure that energy price rises for households remain as low as possible. Of course, in an ideal world, energy prices would not be determined by the need for profit, and all energy and other utilities would be in public hands. Energy taxes are being reduced, and some governments are giving households additional funding to ensure they have the means to pay for their heating and electricity.

Alas, not here.

Minute Britain, the Disunited Kingdom, Little England, call it what you will, is no longer in the EU. On the day spring snow fell in most of the country and temperatures plummeted, just about everyone except the very rich (or perhaps they most of all) was taking meter readings and trying to send them to their energy provider to make sure that they wouldn’t be charged for energy used until the end of March at the new prices which come into force today. There will be an average increase of 54% on energy bills, with gas prices rising by a possible 81%. And what has the government done to protect consumers from this blatant greed by providers and energy companies? Nothing. Oh, it is handing out loans of £200 per household, and providing a tiny rebate on council tax.

The government had it within its gift not to change the energy price cap. The government has it within its gift to levy windfall taxes on energy companies which are making billions of pounds of profit every quarter. The government has it within its gift to abolish consumer taxes on energy supplies. Yet it had done nothing. It has reduced tax on fuel by 5p per litre, a reduction which was outpaced by prices at the fuel pumps before it was even introduced. Yes, the government of this small and insignificant country on the edge of Europe is doing everything to ensure that the poor of this country die. It’s as simple as that. And it is honestly not an exaggeration.

Energy prices do not exist in isolation. The price of energy feeds directly into commodity prices, food prices, commodity availability, food availability, services prices and availability, transport prices; every aspect of a country’s services, supplies, and economy. For a country whose people have already been battered by the adverse economic impact of Brexit (and even the Chancellor finally inadvertently admitted that this is fact in front of a parliamentary committee this week), this is nothing short of a disaster. Homelessness is higher than ever, food bank use is higher than ever, rent evictions are higher than ever, poverty higher than ever in “modern” times.

There is the urge to say that these are no longer modern times. That this government is deliberately leading this country back into Dickensian times, where work houses will be the norm, where forced labour by the poor for a ladle of thin gruel and a line on which to sleep standing will be the norm, where families will be split apart by deaths from hunger, deaths from diseases that can no longer be treated because the National Health Service will remain underfunded and sold off to the highest private bidder and the price of care will make energy prices look like small change.

This oppression of the people, this suppression of free will, this tyranny of the material, this class warfare, this genocide. All in the name of profit. All in the name of greed. This is a country led my murderers, psychopaths, and traitors.

 

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 48

‘What does he think?’ Aggie says.

‘He’s always loved her, and always will,’ Marit says.

‘Really?’ Zav says. ‘I find that difficult to believe.’

‘You don’t have to believe it,’ Marit says. ‘I know it.’

‘This is all too complicated for me,’ Zav says. ‘Why marry someone you don’t love when you’re in love with someone else who loves you back?’

‘Life’s not that simple,’ Aggie says. ‘Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. Sometimes we have to kill what’s inside of us because we want everyone else to have better lives.’

‘She hasn’t exactly achieved that, has she?’ Zav says.

‘At least she’s trying,’ Aggie says.

‘And the pain?’ Zav says.

‘What would you know about pain?’ Aggie says. ‘All you do is posture and talk posh.’

‘I can’t help the way I talk.’

‘You can help the way you act,’ Anna says, and smiles despite of it.

‘I came back, didn’t I?’

‘But why?’ Aggie says.

‘You still don’t trust me,’ he says.

‘I’m not sure she trusts anyone,’ Katharina says. ‘She’s too clever for that.’

‘Thanks,’ Aggie says. She remembers when she had trusted, when she thought her mentor had saved her for the sake of saving her life, not for anything else. Until the games started, until the training started, and the nights were made short, until she’d been asked to kill Anna in a cowardly, hidden way, just because Anna kept winning at chess, just because Anna wouldn’t speak the way the mentor wanted her to speak, just because the mentor thought Anna wasn’t turning out the way her machines of war should turn out, because she didn’t have that blind obedience that was needed for whatever revenge the mentor wanted to take on whomever.

‘And now?’ Marit says. ‘What now that you’ve invaded our house, now that you know all the secrets we have.’

‘I’m sure there are more,’ Zav can’t stop himself from saying, nor a smile from crossing the room from his face to her.

Aggie ignores him. ‘Would you take us to your father?’ she says. ‘He might know something. And this way we can keep you safe.’

‘We were safe enough before you came along,’ Marit says. ‘I can look after myself. She taught me how to.’

‘But you don’t know where she is. None of us do. And I’m not going to be happy until we do find her.’

‘Perhaps she doesn’t want to be found,’ Katharina says. ‘Maybe she just wanted you to find us before Valentine did.’

‘And there’s still no guarantee that she mean them in that phone call, you know,’ Zav says.

‘I think she did,’ Aggie says. ‘And I’m more and more convinced Valentine doesn’t know where she’s gone, and that he wants to find them so he can use them to blackmail her, to stop her doing what she plans to do.’

‘And Putin recognised the danger before Valentine?’ Zav says.

‘Maybe. But I’m almost certain that she decided to disappear when she intercepted those messages, and before Valentine could do anything about it. That’s why he came back and left again in such a hurry, because she’d disappeared just when he was going to disappear her himself.’

‘So we go to York?’ Marit says.

Aggie nods. ‘If you’re both happy to.’

‘Did Valentine know about your dad?’ Anna says.

Marit shakes her head. ‘Nobody did. Not even me, until she introduced him to me.’

‘Do you trust him?’ Katharina says.

‘Yes, I do,’ Marit says. ‘Oddly enough.’

‘We’ll use the car,’ Katharina says.

‘What car?’ Zav says. ‘I didn’t see a car. And that garage isn’t fit for purpose.’

Katharina gets up, not looking so frail any more. ‘You have a lot to learn about women, and you’d better learn it fast.’

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