Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on power, taxes and a seasonal shock from the smart meter

Delighted to see the man they call Lula winning the presidential election in Brazil. All being well, the Amazon may be saved from being turned into one giant beef farm.

Will Lula save the Amazon?

But why was it that, in so much of the media coverage, Lula (aka Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva) was described merely as “left wing” or “leftist” while his opponent, Jair Bolsonaro , was invariably branded “hard right,” “far right” or “extreme right”? It's probably because so many journalists belong to the liberal elite: by their adjectives shall ye know them.

Too good to last, wasn't it? One of the attractions of electric vehicles (EVs) is that owners don't have to pay road tax. But as some of us have been pointing out for ages, no government is going to part willingly with the multi-billion pound golden egg it gets from petrol duty without looking for a new source of income.

Sure enough, unnamed sources in Whitehall have let it be known that EVs will be subject to road tax “in less than three years”. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will probably announce something in his breathlessly-awaited Autumn Statement.

EV owners will be furious at this new tax. After all, as a reader pointed out neatly in March this year: “It's like slapping a tax on people who stop paying tobacco duty when they give up smoking.” Quite right, sir. You have logic, principle and natural justice on your side. Doesn't make a scrap of difference.

Real-life inflation. As I reported at the time, my smart meter reading for electricity used in August was £72.46. The reading for October is £109.14. And we haven't even switched on the central heating yet.

And who can say when we will switch it on? A year ago I ripped out our old coal-fired boiler and replaced it with an electric boiler, which is magnificent. With no fuss, no flue, no noise and few working parts, it heats the radiators from sub-polar to scorchio in about 10 minutes.

The downside? While the installation is cheap and there's little or no servicing, it costs a fortune to run. Our powerful but daunting electric boiler lives in a cupboard, and we live in fear of it. We call it Chernobyl.