During the 2015 General Election, Ed Miliband’s flagship pledge to cap energy prices was derided by conservatives as a deranged idea from the 1970s. The then-PM David Cameron accused “Red Ed” of “wanting to live in a Marxist universe”. Yet within two years, the idea had found its way into the Conservative election manifesto, along with plans for a £9 minimum wage that surpassed anything promised by the opposition in 2015.
We saw the repercussions of the misguided strategy to “out-Labour” the Labour Party last week, when the Shadow Business Minister Rebecca Long-Bailey criticised the Conservatives for failing to implement the energy cap sooner. In doing so, she claimed, the Government has cost British households nearly £1,000 in energy costs over the past seven years.
It’s hard to dispute the logic of this. By endorsing price caps in the first place, rather than critiquing the shaky economic logic behind them, the Conservatives opened themselves up to accusations of inaction. You can’t beat Labour at its own game.