Throughout the 1970s, Britain was repeatedly shaken to its core by social mayhem and political chaos caused by disastrous energy crises.
The episodic anarchy was not due to a lack of energy – in fact Britain had more coal, oil and gas than any other European country.
The turmoil was generated by striking coal miners, protesting oil lorry drivers and muddled Government attempts to manipulate markets or reduce electricity consumption.
These traumatic upheavals badly hurt families and UK industries. They also brought down governments and the entire economy.
The Tories lost the 1974 Election while its disastrous three-day week was under way. Labour lost the 1979 Election in the aftermath of the even more calamitous Winter of Discontent.
I believe Britain’s ruinous green energy policy is now threatening to bring about a comparable and wholly unnecessary energy crisis.
As in the 1970s, energy prices in recent years have been driven up rapidly by dogmatic policies and political targets. At the same time, the country is sitting on an untapped, newly discovered gold mine of cheap and abundant energy (in the form of vast shale deposits).
Britain’s political leaders, however, seem unwilling to adjust outdated energy policies to a rapidly changing reality.
This reality is stark indeed: Energy poverty is sweeping Britain. Following the latest price rises, the average household energy bill now stands at more than £1,400.
This winter, many families will be forced to choose whether to heat or eat. As many as six million families are struggling to cope.
Another three million families face fuel poverty as a result of price rises due to the Government’s green energy bill.
In order to establish itself as the ‘greenest Government ever’, Ministers are forcing Britain to adopt the most expensive and least competitive forms of energy generation.
The social implications are enormous. Families and small and medium-sized businesses are essentially funding wealthy green investors who can afford to install wind farms on their land and solar panels on their rooftops.
Whether the looming energy gap will be filled in time to avoid 1970s-style blackouts is increasingly uncertain. In recent days, two major energy companies have announced an investment freeze in power generation until the 2015 Election.
At the same time, politicians are threatening to close down perfectly functioning coal power plants which are generating by far the cheapest energy.
The current set of political leaders are too young or were too sheltered to remember the trauma of the calamities of the 1970s. It is doubtful they realise the enormous political risk their green energy gamble involves.
I hope history will not repeat itself. After all, it teaches us that any attempt to turn back the clock to the dark period of centralised energy planning would not only damage Britain’s economy – it would almost certainly end in failure and social pain and unrest.
Mail on Sunday, 13 October 2013