It alarms me that Radio Corbyn Extra (BBC Radio 4 Today) has given such an enthusiastic welcome to Liz Truss’s plan to encourage people to carry on leaving their lights on all night, ramp up their central heating, and eat out on the government in the hundreds of thousands of cafes and restaurants that have sprung up in Britain since we opened our borders to all comers.
This is not quite what one expects in an economic war which will end in Putin turning off ALL supplies of gas to the west in December. Even allowing for Kyiv’s lying propaganda about driving back the Russians, Putin’s war is not going well. Too many bodies are coming back from the front, his generals hate him while his troops try to shoot the latter if they ever try to turn up on the battlefield.
Turning off all the gas will be Putin’s last throw to bring Europe to the table and surrender Ukraine. There will be few opportunities after that with the weather improving and the west bringing on its mothballed nuclear power stations, oil and gas fields. If he doesn’t his colleagues may introduce him to one of the smorgasbord of poisons the Kremlin uses on its enemies or failing that, an open window.
Meanwhile while President Biden spends his days trying to remember the whereabouts of the toilet, more focused heads in the Pentagon are arranging a huge expansion of US army bases in Eastern Europe in anticipation of a toe to toe with Ivan. Not only is it something the Pentagon has dreamed of ever since General Patten met with a fatal road accident for suggesting it in 1945, Russia’s conventional forces are in a terrible state and this is an opportunity that may not come again.
The justification for it is there. Putin cannot down the economies of Western Europe without the issuing of ultimatums from Europe and Washington and London. By downing the economies, I do not mean some minor twitch in interest rates but food queues, lightless streets, harvests ungathered, airports closed and a sharp contraction in life expectancy. The consequence of such a catastrophe could last decades; it could be a mortal blow to capitalism.
Uncertainties abound and uncertainty breeds war talk especially about energy, the life blood of an industrial society. When nobody knows the facts, who for example among the energy companies is a broker or an owner of the world’s energy sources, a fundamental question I have not seen an answer to, should the UK nationalise or not? Oil prices are falling , gas prices are rising, what should governments do? Is raising interest rates a good or bad idea to combat inflation or does it stoke it?
Nobody would be mad enough to start such a war? In 1914 our leaders in full possession of their senses (or were they?) began a war that cost 20 million lives and as a direct consequence a further 20 million by disease and famine. Over what? The killing by a madman of couple of parasites in feathered hats riding an open car in Sarajevo.
The answer is not to hand out gas and electricity to the public who will forget its real cost, politically and economically in a couple of weeks. We need to store it or if not storing it, conserve our currency by not spending anything but the minimum on it. Long Johns and hot water bottles are better than a Russian shell in your back garden.