Many people will say it can’t be done, but of course it has been. The Attlee government of 1945 nationalized energy and successive Conservative governments – including those of Churchill, MacMillan and Heath – were happy to have a nationalized asset. Harold MacMillan accused Margaret Thatcher of “selling the family silverware” when she privatized state industries.
When I was born in 1979, the National Coal Board, British Gas and British Petroleum were all state or majority state companies. Between them, they were the main suppliers of our energy. Our gas bills came from British Gas and our electricity bills from our regional electricity board (in my case, Seeboard, the South Eastern Electricity Board), and coal and oil fed our power stations.
Regional Electric Boards had been created by the Attlee Government’s Electricity Act 1947, when the electric companies were forcibly merged into regional boards and nationalised. The Coal Industry Nationalization Act of 1946 and the Gas Act of 1948 together made energy public property.
Seeboard was privatized in 1990 and then became part of EDF Energy – ironically, the nationalized French energy company whose profits from British stupidity are used to subsidize French consumers.
The French government has now fully nationalized EDF (previously it was 84% state-owned), and household energy bills have risen just 4% this year, compared to more than 50% in the UK and a forecast of 200% by January 2023.
If Starmer won’t listen to me (or his own 2020 commitments), maybe emulating centrist Emmanuel Macron in that case would be okay?