Nonsense from Dieter Helm – Energy Futures Network: The Coalition Effect – Energy Policy and the Coalition

11:27 (16 minutes ago)
to Claverton

Excellent Alan .. good to have some first hand evidence .. I think Helm is seeking controversy for his own ends .. it is important that this version of the “truth” does not take hold ..kind regards m

On 15 April 2015 at 16:59, Alan Simpson


I’m on holiday and have just skimmed through the Helm paper.

Helm’s occasional accuracies should not gloss over the naive free-marketeering delusions he runs with. Thatchers privatisation never produced a sustainably competitive market. It quickly created a cartel that was obsessed with short-term profit taking. Companies (with the exception of British Gas – who had a legal duty to maintain gas safety) quickly dumped their apprenticeship and skill training programmes. Skilled workers were sold their own jobs, and work bought back in. Long term investment in infrastructure came a poor second to ‘maintaining shareholder confidence’. The cartel Thatcher created then set about occupying the corridors of government to make sure the subsidies kept rolling. Whatever it’s defects, this is what Labour inherited rather than created.

Helm is right to depict the shift from the Beckett/Hewitt anti-nuclear line to the Blair/Hutton pro-nuclear one as a blameable Labour gaff, but not to lay it at Miliband’s feet. Miliband faced running battles with DECC over his commitment to renewables, and Helm is absolutely wrong to say that nuclear was included in its original framing. As the principal parliamentary architect of the FiTs amendments in the Energy Act 2008, I can say categorically that it was never intended to  form part of public expenditure accounting (let alone locked within a capped LCF budget). This was the dream child of Osborne in his 2010 Autumn Statement.

Helm is also right in his criticisms of Green Deal, the EU-ETS, the capacity mechanism and CfDs. But then, various NGOs, and people like myself, have been saying this ever since the Coalition came into office. Huhne may have accurately judged that nuclear would never be viable without huge subsidy, but he was too much a hostage of his own civil servants (some of whom were completely mendacious) to grasp the bigger stitch up taking place. His preoccupation with a prospective Leadership challenge took his attentions too fare from the main ‘energy’ game. Helm misses this point completely.

What Helm also misses is that a different approach – pinching the German model of FiTs adjustment, driving energy efficiency through the GIB (not the Big 6) at 1% interest rates, forcing Ofgem to make the Grid take clean energy before dirty, prioritising Grid decentralisation, but avoiding the German error of not passing falling on the benefit of falling RE costs directly into household bills – was waiting in the wings. The real criticism of the Labour Opposition is that it was too dumb to grasp this…but then EFFECTIVE interventionism is not what the Helm delusion is looking for. He lives in pursuit of a different fairy tale.

I may write more once we get back, but just needed to vent my spleen at the mock ‘expertise’ this chapter trails around.

Sent from my iPad
On 15 Apr 2015, at 16:15, Martin Alder  [Claverton] <> wrote:


This is a remarkably one sided tract from a highly rated and experienced economist – so if I read it correctly the last five years have to be blamed directly on Ed Miliband it was he who devised EMR and the Levy Control Framework .. I’m gobsmacked! .. best m

On 14 April 2015 at 21:17, ‘David Hirst Claverton] <> wrote:


It seems to me extraordinary that a “respected” senior economist can get away with the sort of cynical, snide and disingenuous claptrap that this paper shows. Much of the argument is about the motives of the various players, and it is inconceivable that Helm could know this, particularly as at least some of the protagonists are pretty bitter rivals, most unlikely to share their innermost political thinking with an arrogant bigoted neo-liberal free marketeer. If there is a point of view shown, it is that of Osbourne, but resembles most closely that of the Tea Party.

Of course, the extraordinarily harmful and incoherent Coalition Energy Policy presents a target rich environment with almost nothing about it doing any good for anybody – not even the Big Six corporates who seem to be a driving force behind his complaints about “Green NGOs”. It did not even mention climate change as the driver behind many of the (admittedly unsuccessful) attempts to address the big issue of our day.

I suppose the wisdom of Antony Seldon – who, by several accounts, is quite a good and successful head teacher – just do not extent to the issues that will hurt the lives of most of his pupils. Perhaps he has spent too long studying Major, Blair and Thatcher (see to have retained all his marbles.

Remind me to ignore any more rubbish from Helm.



David Hirst




From: []
Sent: 08 April 2015 13:21
To: Claverton; Hugh Sharman; Chris Hodrien; Paul-Frederik Bach
Subject: [Claverton] Fwd: Dieter Helm – Energy Futures Network: Paper 10 – essential reading




You are here. Home. The Coalition Effect – Energy Policy and the Coalition

The Coalition Effect – Energy Policy and the Coalition

26th March 2015 PUBLICATION

The Coalition came to power with a ready-made energy policy developed under Labour. The Secretary of State was Ed Miliband, and his policy as it played out under the Coalition was to prove the basis of a return to a level of state intervention not seen since the days of the CEGB, British Gas and the nationalised industries. By the general election in 2015, the almost complete U-turn had been completed, abandoning most of the liberalised and competitive structures that had been the hallmark of British energy policy for a quarter of a century.

How did a Conservative dominated government come to preside over such a profound reversal to their policy heritage from the Thatcherite years? Why did they allow this to happen? The answers lie in the path dependency, which Labour had created towards ever-greater intervention, and the ceding by the Conservatives of energy policy to the Liberal Democrats as part of the price of Coalition. It was something the Conservatives would come to regret, forcing the Chancellor and his allies to fight a rear-guard action. Worse still, the Coalition was to preside over a big increase in the coal burn, a rise in carbon dioxide emissions in 2013, a political rebellion on prices and come perilously close to provoking a security of supply crisis. No one could describe Coalition energy policy as a success.

Chapter published in The Coalition Effect, 2010-2015, Anthony Seldon and Mike Finn, eds. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).


David Andrews

Link to comprehensive report on Combined Heat and Power and District Heating, written  by the Joint Research Centre, Petten, under contract to European Commission, DG Ener: