The current regulator, despite its occasional growls over the Big Six's price hikes, has never convinced the public that it carries the muscle to stand up to the industry's lobbying might.
Argy-bargy over energy prices has come to be seen as an empty exercise in which the companies always win, whatever the weather in the wholesale oil and gas markets. A 20-month price freeze implemented by a new and stronger regulator, as Miliband proposes, would send a useful message that the game must change.
The companies would be in no position to grumble about unfair tactics since they are guilty of worse. On one hand, they portray themselves as helpless prisoners of simple laws of supply and demand in the international energy market; on the other, they have for years operated price tariffs that are definitely not simple and appear instead to be designed to bamboozle the punters. No wonder public trust is low.
For all that, there was a gaping hole in Miliband's remarks on energy. If you plan to reshape this market, you have to answer the basic question of how the lights will stay on. The chorus of complaint from the energy industry was entirely predictable: if you control our prices, we won't have the confidence to invest in new power stations.
This threat-cum-warning needs to be taken seriously. The Labour counter-grumble that energy companies with the largest profits have tended to invest the least may or may not be true (evidence, please) but it's certainly true that companies will sometimes refuse to write cheques if they don't get what they want from government.
It happened this week. Centrica scrapped two gas storage projects after failing to win public subsidies: it thought it cheaper to take a £240m writedown than to proceed with construction. The result is that the UK will have capacity to store about 21 days' worth of gas, about one-fifth of the capacity of Germany.
The UK can, perhaps, afford to take that gamble if we truly believe LNG imports could save the day in a crisis. But the stakes are higher when we are talking about planned investment of £100bn over a decade in energy infrastructure. Would a squeeze on energy firms' prices jeopardise that spending?
Miliband needs to state how he would compel or encourage companies to invest, and how prices are meant to stay lower while simultaneously funding more green energy. Without the detail, he's open to the charge of grandstanding – and he's also giving the likes of Centrica space to make exaggerated claims about their ability to stay in business.
The good news, politically speaking for Labour, is that the current government can hardly claim its gentle approach to the energy firms has delivered the infrastructure goodies. New nuclear? We're still waiting, and the government is in the terrible negotiating position of talking to a single would-be supplier about price guarantees stretching out over decades. Fracking? Nobody can know yet whether it will be viable in the UK.
This should, then, be fertile territory for a new deal with the energy industry. A short price freeze is a reasonable place to start (and would not be as painful for the companies as they pretend) but the heart of any reform to energy policy must be a clear vision of how new infrastructure will be built and financed. On that score, Miliband must find something to say – soon.
In other news, big business didn't like Labour's idea of giving a modest tax break to small business at its expense. The CBI, the Institute of Directors and the British Chambers of Commerce lined up to condemn a policy of reversing a planned rise in business rates in 2015 and cancelling a planned reduction in the main rate of corporation tax from 21% to 20%.
Labour can safely ignore the squeals. Successful promotion of business cannot be defined solely by how many multinationals the UK can attract; it is also about home-grown businesses. A tweak (which is all it is) in favour of smaller firms will strike most people outside the boardrooms of big companies as fair. And, for all the outrage from the business groups, the policy won't register on the radar of the average foreign multinational.
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