Fortune will favour the bold in the year of the squeeze, which is why a windfall tax on North Sea energy producers clocking up huge unearned profits could enable Keir Starmer to flatten both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.
Labour’s leader is under increasing pressure to unveil a juicy offer to households clobbered by a £1,200 spring hit from soaring energy bills, Tory tax rises, rising prices and stagnant wages.
Magic money trees are a Conservative myth yet North Sea giants who’ve collectively landed a £20billion jackpot from rocketing wholesale prices without their own costs surging are ripe for picking.
BP boss Bernard Looney boasting his company’s “literally a cash machine” for investors is a green light when every £2.8bn redistributed from the sector could shave £100 off household bills.
Labour’s left scents a glorious opportunity as do some in Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet and a Lib Dem corpse twitching back to life after two stunning by-election victories.
Even Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair’s Prince of Darkness flaunting revived relevance, acknowledges Labour’s policy “gaping hole” as he hails Starmer for Prime Minister.
The unanswered question is whether the leader backs a windfall tax or sticks on a low watt demand 5% VAT be suspended from £2,000 bills forecast in a few months to be 100% costlier than a year ago.
Labour’s former Chancellor and Premier Gordon Brown, close to Starmer, could prove pivotal as the architect of Labour’s 1997 election-winning £5billion windfall tax on privatised utilities.
The move would be popular and Johnson and Sunak’s failure to share a North Sea unearned bonanza betrays a lack of nerve when George Osborne levied a charge on bumper profits in 2011 and Margaret Thatcher in 1982.
“We want both to be on the right side with the public and credible,” a Starmer adviser told me.
“And there’s also the issue of timing. I honestly don’t know what we’ll do but Keir’s got the wind in his sails and has good instincts.”
An Opposition declaring it’s on the side of the people will legitimately in 2022 be asked to make choices and explain what it would do. North Sea pennies from heaven are just the start.