Keir Starmer made what he may have considered a throwaway remark on last Tuesday’s Today Programme.

When asked about Labour’s idea for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, he stated confidently that no one objected to them making profits.

Wrong. 

I object. I bet the millions of people who live on polluted land do too. Everyone whose energy bill has soared will object. And that’s millions of us. Billions worldwide. Only casino bankers, oil company bosses and politicians in the pay of the multinationals would, I suspect, agree with the UK Labour leader.

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Of course, oil and gas companies operate globally and so have global reach over individual states. This current crisis, however, is also affecting every country and could encourage many of them to work together to oppose corporate power and greed.

Political will is key but, as Starmer demonstrated, is sadly lacking. Aggressive corporate lobbying puts pay to any real political pressure. So outlaw the lobbying. Easily done.

What we are witnessing is modern capitalism at its most rapacious. Mired in obscene profits, obscene rewards, obscene levels of corruption, capitalism has been killing people across the global south for decades in the wake of the great neoliberal sell-off.

Now we in Europe are starting to feel the heat. And that’s after years of austerity during which hundreds of thousands of people in Wales have been forced into poverty. 

Just how much closer to the bone can people cut? How many deaths from hypothermia and starvation are acceptable?

So here are my suggestions to counter and reverse the cost of living crisis:

  • An immediate windfall tax on oil and gas companies to provide support to those in need. Easily done. 
  • Medium term, a supplementary levy paid in to a sovereign wealth fund as Norway has done since 1990.
  • Long term, the transition of the entire UK energy sector to not-for-profit models along the lines of Dŵr Cymru, for example. Small is beautiful. That way income surpluses are reinvested across the sector, including renewables, allowing for a smooth transition away from fossil fuels and nuclear to green energy, which has to be a major part of the solution to economic justice and stability.

Wales has a rich tradition of doing things differently. May 14 is the anniversary of the birth of Robert Owen in Drenewydd, Maldwyn, in 1771.

Owen was a utopian socialist and father of the cooperative movement. Though no revolutionary, he understood that workers created wealth but received very little of the rewards.

READ MORE: Robert Owen – One of Wales’s greatest political icons

He tried to build communities based on his ideas, hoping that society as a whole would be won over. It wasn’t. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from his experiences and follow the example of the Mondragon cooperative network in Euskadi / the Basque Country.

Owen may not have achieved his goal, but he would be heartened by the fact that working together for the good of the community through cooperation in various forms still thrives today.

We need to apply that spirit now before capitalism takes even more lives.

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