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Chancellor invents new irregular verb on subsidies



The excellent Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister gave us three brilliant characters, Jim Hacker, Sir Humphrey and Bernard. It also gave us some perfect one-liners. Today’s autumn statement reminded us of a comment by Bernard: “It’s one of those irregular verbs, isn’t it: I have an independent mind; you are an eccentric; he is round the twist.”

In the chancellor’s inflamed dash for gas he appears to have created his own irregular verb: “I receive public spending; you get tax incentives; he gets a subsidy.”

Those opposed to renewable energy regularly get quite upset about the ‘outrageous’ subsidies received by the renewable sector.

As we have pointed out before, fossil fuels already receive £2.60 for every pound of renewable subsidy (or public spending or tax incentive*).  We rarely hear those who condemn renewables as ‘junky subsidies’ attack the much more subsidy-addicted oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries. Moreover, this ignores the billions of pounds of health damage (creating another subsidy) from air pollution from burning fossil fuels.

Words really matter as any student of history should know, and the chancellor (BA [Oxon], History) might be letting a little prejudice show by describing the support he intends to provide to shale gas as a ‘tax incentive’ and what renewable receives as a ‘subsidy’. The former implies he is keeping nasty tax low on an emerging sector; the latter implies he is shovelling public money into greedy private pockets.

If you want to know about the potential of clean, limitless, domestic energy read our 2012 Guide on the subject.

(*delete as prejudice permits)

Further reading:

The real energy subsidy scandal

What have subsidies ever done for us

The autumn statement fails to recognise our planet is hurting

Autumn statement: the reaction