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If "green taxes" work as designed, then the revenues they generate will inevitably fall with time. It's hard therefore to see how a party already scared of articulating the case for lower taxation could use such taxes to justify cutting other taxes.

Beyond that, "green taxes" are deeply discriminatory against the very lower income strivers the editorial suggests the tax system should be favouring. They are the ones who will be priced out of having their trip abroad once the likes of Mr Norris have swung their axes at the low cost carriers. Meanwhile people who can afford to will travel as before. It's unlikely that Mr Norris is indicating that he should be priced out of air travel.

It astounds me that this ghastly political and business failure commands such attention in the Conservative party.

He is not remembered fondly here.

The arrogance of these people is astounding.

"You do have to avoid creating a culture based on cheap aviation which will be as pernicious as the way of life based on car ownership has been in terms of urban planning"

In other words, we can't have riff raff flying.

We own a car, but we've only been able to do so in the last 6 months, and it has made a huge difference to our quality of life. For years we lived the reality of having to rely on the bus (in a town with about as good a public transport system as you can have) and would not go back to using it if you paid us.

For years I've resented it when people say 'the Tories are just for the rich' but if people like Norris have their way it will be a hard case to refute.

Mr Norris is very rich and can easily afford a doubling or more of airfares; and so it is easy for him to advocate high taxes on air travel. He will still be able to afford to fly whilst the public, whom he expects to vote for him and his ilk will have to stay at home. Typical elitist politician.

Bravo for Steve Norris for having the guts to say the unsayable (in Conservative terms) about taking the necessary steps to tackle the damage that high-polluting methods of transport do to our environment.

Economic disincentivisation of harmful practice is something I've championed for a long time, particularly in relation to transport pollution.

The Editor talks above about 'the already troubled airline industry', but when I read news about vast swathes of the Home Counties countryside being paved over to allow for airport expansion, I fail to see how the airline industry can be in that much trouble.

The fact of the matter is that there are far too many unnecessary flights taken these days, such as the Bristol-Plymouth service I frequently cite, all of which are effectively subsidised by Johnny Taxpayer because of the favourable fuel duty rates enjoyed by the aviation industry.

Furthermore, and I know this is a rather feeble justification, the sort of measures proposed by Norris would act as a boost to our flagging domestic tourist industry by encouraging more people to take their holidays at one of the many splendid tourist destinations within Britain.

Where is the research to show what the reaction from the battle ground voters will be?

Will it really gain votes or just fight the Lib Dems to a neutral position on the environment?

Vote loser for sure. Low income people should not be priced out of overseas holidays to placate affluent Green's sensibilities.

Green Taxes are not a good idea. As simple as that really. Taxation just creates frustration and resentment - whatever the circumstances, and therefore the Conservatives should be looking for incentive based schemes, it any at all.

Instead of using taxation to penalise bad eco behaviour surely we would enjoy better success by rewarding positive eco behaviours?

FLIGHTS
Lets make it preferable and cheaper for people to holiday at home here in the UK ie no VAT on British Hotels etc for a stay of 4 nights or more if you check in showing your UK passport. Hotel not charged VAT on all stays with valid UK passport number and owners details attached.

ENERGY
Lets make energy efficiency simpler, cheaper and preferable i.e. no VAT on CFL bulbs

TRANSPORT
People who need to drive or prefer to drive are going to drive. Period. So lets try to incentivise development and purchase of fuel efficient cars i.e. remove VAT on all alternative energy vehicles ie hybrids. Car companies and buyers will benefit.

Thoughts?

Namaste

Al

I seem to recall Norris complaining about travelling on the tube with smelly people and now they travel by plane too.

If holidays were booked last minute the UK might benefit from lower taxes on hotel services, as our weather is so unpredictable.

The problem will be that holidaying at home usually involves driving around by car. If that is made pohibitive, all that will happen is that all holidays will get more expensive.

No wonder Downing St are rubbing their hands.

It will be better to attack the problem from the macro-environmental end, not from the consumer side which will only increase the pain felt by voters. If Britain gets on with bio-fuels, wave, tidal, wind and thermal power, fuel cell, hydrogen etc and we build local power stations to provide heat as well as power, we will massively cut our emissions.

Asking consumers to put windmills on their roof is only tinkering with the problem, as is punishing people for going on holiday, and enjoying life.

This is a wrong turn.

Why are we still giving house-room to this failed nobody, Norris?

I'm sick to the back teeth of being lectured to and taxed by people who have no qualifications to run my life better than I do myself.

If I wanted stomach-churning 'environmentalism' based on iffy science, and social engineering via the State, I'd read the Guardian and vote for the Left.

Woulld someone please put Norris out of my misery?

If someone can help Sim and remove Norris from his consciousness, would they please also add Gummer, Heseltine and Clarke to the list and so ensure my future peace of mind?

John Coles - I'm with you all the way with your suggestions, and I know there are some more superannuated old farts in the 1922 who would not be missed by their colleagues!

Cityhippy @ 12:47

"... no VAT on British Hotels etc for a stay of 4 nights or more if you check in showing your UK passport. Hotel not charged VAT on all stays with valid UK passport number and owners details attached." etc

has evidently forgotten that we are in the EU. And hugely beneficial it is too. :-)

"There must be matching cuts in other forms of taxation - particularly those that fall on lower income strivers"

Steve Norris has proposed this with matching cuts in VAT and other taxes.

All power to him. This is the sort of bold, credible thinking the Tories need.

Phase out road tax and at each point recover the same revenue by increasing fuel duty. That helps everybody who needs to own a car, while increasing the cost of actually using it. Lower average annual mileage means fewer cars on the road at any time, means less congestion, means quicker and smoother journeys, means fewer cars on the road at any time, means less congestion, means less need to fork out on building new roads ... but major changes to the way we live can only be achieved gradually, otherwise it becomes too painful.

What if lower income strivers want a weekend in Prague?

Why are all environmentalists the kind of people who can afford a large increase in fares? Again, it's one rule for them and another for the people who will feel the pinch of their wizard new eco policies.

Many of the Green Tories have taken on board taxation as the instrument of change - particularly of aviation & Chelsea Tractors - as a badge of belonging. The Green Lobby has laid down that you can't be serious about green issues if you aren't going to tax these severely.

Why? Aviation is a tiny though growing part of CO2 emissions & global warming (I think its about 3%) so if it doubles it remains a small part of the problem. SUVs make a tiny proportion of vehicles on the road. Small changes in efficient transport of goods, local generation, increased energy efficiency all do more than stopping the SUV/Aviation emissions altogether.

Can we be grown ups about the issue and get away from gesture politics. Seriously reducing CO2, methane & other CO2 sources means looking at the big causes and reducing them - so home energy use, power stations & loss in transmission, goods distribution, centralisation of facilities (hospitals, schools, megastores all miles from consumers of the services), goods distribution & road congestion (lorries & cars are very inefficient at low speed). If this means changing taxation rules then look at how this can be done in a way that has public acceptance and reduces economic shock.

Why do so many Conservative members seem to think that referring to someone as 'enviromentalist' is an insult? These people are trying to build a better world lets try to work with them.

"...no VAT on British Hotels etc for a stay of 4 nights or more if you check in showing your UK passport. Hotel not charged VAT on all stays with valid UK passport number and owners details attached."

This would, of course, require the UK to withdraw from the EU in order to work. Which I do not, myself, regard as a bad thing, but thought worth mentioning.

"These people are trying to build a better world lets try to work with them."

It's the self-destructive means and not the idealistic motives that are usually the problem. Making air travel more expensive as a way to "save the world" reminds me of nothing more than how the EU's Common Agricultural Policy and opposition to GM foods contributes to the deaths of millions by starvation.

"These people are trying to build a better world lets try to work with them."

Eyewash! The environmentalist movement is about ending economic growth, ending the development of new technologies (ever heard of the 'precautionary principle'?), and consigning the world's poor to a picturesque but miserable subsistence future.

And they don't even care about actual real answers to pollution - look at the stunt they pulled in the 90s over the disposal of the Brent Spar, which meant (due to corporate cowardice on the part of its owners) that instead of being sunk in the deep ocean it was dismantled on land and the chemicals within it had to be disposed of on land.

I think the most elegant solution to this is to slap VAT on airline fuel. Their current exemption is equivalent to a subisdy and offensive to free market principles. It would also target environmental impact rather than numbers flying (it's planes in the air that cause the problems not the marginal addition of passengers) and this would incentivise airlines to fly at greater capacity. It may even allow room for abolition of air paasseger duty, thus contributing to our aim of simplifying taxes and offsetting the extra cost that will flter down from the VAT on fuel. Politically it easier to be seen to charge profit making airlines rather than 'honest holidaymakers', though of course in reality all taxes on business are really taxes on consumers.

"Their current exemption is equivalent to a subisdy and offensive to free market principles."

We keep hearing this, and it is awful that so many conservatives buy into it. That is only the case if the default premise is that everything is taxed, except those things which the state in all its benevolence has decided to spare. Needless to say, while that fits with the philosophy of certain other political parties it should not be our default premise.

What about personal tradeable carbon allowances? These are not regressive (in fact poor people who cannot even now afford NFC flights would benefit as they could choose to sell their unused carbon allowance to richer farts) and they would not discriminate against this or that mode of carbon generation - whether petrol engined car, coal fired electricity, or even air mile costs of organic veg from the other side of the planet. And they would give all of us a clear signal as to what to buy / do at least cost to the planet. It's sad that Labour have already suggested this, but no argument against it.

Yes Gildas, I'm sure the most important priority of an enviromentalist is how to end industrial growth! -Not.
A huge amount of work is done by groups such as the RSPB,The Wildlife Trusts and English Nature to protect the enviroment AND to promote efficient and sustainable agriculture in this country.Is their work 'Eyewash' too?

Thank god that Norris won't be our candidate for the London Mayoralty again, and quite how two appallingly bad and failed attempts at defeating the open goal that is Livingstone qualify him to be lecturing all of us on keeping the poor oiks off of aeroplanes is beyond me.

There is a serious danger that our version of the green agenda is going to be perceived as simply elitism by the back door and proposals such a Norris' will only help Labour to make that point.Genuine environmental advances will best be secured by educating people and by making green alternatives available to them, not by fiddling with the tax system to the benefit only of the better off, or by coercion.

Environmentalist is a name Conservatives should be proud to wear. Yes there are elements in Green lobby that are romantic Levellers, New Age wannabees or anti-capitalist. But care for this planet and for quality of life are core conservative values - we are not by descent free market libertarians (except from the infusion of whiggish ex liberals) - and what we can offer are real solutions based around what works to conserve rather than some revolutionary tosh that excites teenage romatics.

Matt is right in that real environmentalism isn't about fiddling with the tax system, it's about using technology, education and targeting real and achievable change. Fiddling with tax is about as useful as Nero was when Rome burnt.

Since green taxes will almost solely affect business, this is utterly nonesensical.

To be perfectly honest, this whole cheap airline environmentalist angle has been blown way out of proportion. Even the UK were to disappear off the map overnight, the emmissions reducion (if global warming proves real) will only serve to delay the predictions by about 5 years. There are some real solutions to global warming. These are:

1) Investment in fast breeder nuclear reactors.

2) Investment in fusion.

3) Investment in clean coal.

4) Investment in carbon sequestration.

5) Investment in carbon-fixing microbes.

Taxing holidays is about Socialists trying to find a politically correct way to get at the middle classes - nothing more. It will not affect climate change in the slightest.

In principle, 'Green' taxation makes sense - lets stick it to the polluters. We surely all want to help preserve the planet for future generations.

Sadly, however, its a huge vote loser. Firtsly, it is reqressive taxation - the poorest members of society will pay the largest percentage of their incomes for it. Secondly, as someone else has posted above, it comes across as the elitist snob Tories again - we don't want Johnny Riff Raff up in the air, do we?

I'm not sure what the answer is. Norris, for once in his pitiful career has some good points, but the presentation of policies like this is a minefield that perhaps we could do well to avoid right now.

"We are not by descent free market libertarians (except from the infusion of whiggish ex liberals)"

One of the funnier things I've read on here. Are you seriously suggesting the Maggie 'Privatise anything we can get our hands on' Thatcher years were just an abberation???.......

Getting back to the subject I think the main problem with taxes on holidays is that they hit hardest people who are already living fairly modest lifstyles (because they are poor- at least by western standards) but enjoy a week a year in the sun. The rich of course will continue to do as they please.

This is why I think Labour have rejected such taxes- because they hit the very people they are supposed to be standing up for.

Let's hope Steve Norris is our party's Mayoral candidate again.

This sort of tough and tender policy combination is exactly where our party needs to be.

Yes James, great idea. Then this oaf, who has made Prescott look bright by comparison, can record a hat-trick of defeats against a anti-semetic, pro-IRA, tax and spend, red Socialist.

If Norris is the answer, it must be a particularly stupid question.

comstock

Thatcher is not the Conservative Party, she led it for 15 years or so - I voted for her, supported her and think she is one of our best leaders and her infusion of real free market beliefs her great gift to this party - but she was not the final prophet sent to give the Tories commandments & doctrines to bind the party forever. In historic terms she was very non-conservative - I think she'd have been happier in a Gladstone rather than a Disraeli government.

She was certainly viewed as an aberration by many Tories in the early years of her government - the Wets for example and many of the old conservative "gentry" and her eventual downfall was when these managed to ally with the malcontents who'd lost jobs.

Similarly Tony Blair is IMHO viewed as an aberration by many in the Labour Party - hence the desire for the Prince skulking in his Scottish hideaway.

Thought Conservatives were the positive party?
Shoudnt we be advacating a competition that would find the 21st century transport.

Driverless "cars" on elevated roads must be the answer, so can I please have the prize?
(further clue: try a search on - light rail bristol )

"In principle, 'Green' taxation makes sense - lets stick it to the polluters. We surely all want to help preserve the planet for future generations."

Errr... no, actually. Those polluters are the people who maintain our standard of living. If we want to reduce pollution then we should subsidise nuclear power, but we won't. Simply taxing polluting business just makes it leave, as china clay production already has because of the climate change levy, where it pollutes more than it did originally in other countries, whilst damaging UK productivity and our trade balance.

"Then this oaf, who has made Prescott look bright by comparison, can record a hat-trick of defeats against a (sic.) anti-semetic, pro-IRA, tax and spend, red Socialist."

First, Steve is extremely intellectual--not at all like Prescott.

Second, he has run a government department with competence, and is responsible, for example, for the Jubilee Line Extension, the largest addition to the London Underground to date (under the last Tory government that invested more in public transport than this Labour one).

Third, refresh my memory, were you supporting Lord Archer in 2000? Or Nikki Page in 2004? Hmmm, let's see who would have won those contests.

Come to think of it which, ahem, "heavyweight" candidate are you supporting this time, Nicholas Boles, Victoria Borwick, Warwick Lightfoot or whatever the other one is called?

Doubtless one of those will just cruise to victory against the Mayor (and by the way, "Red socialist" doesn't work as a campaign tactic--but then what do you know about campaigning, you prefer Boles, Borwick & Lightfoot to a serious candidate like Steve Norris?).

Modern Conservatism must be about giving more opportunities to more people. The quote from Norris does not seem to reflect this.

Matt

Helen Collins: The fact that so far we don't have a serious heavyweight contender does not mean that we should go again with a two time loser.

(and incidentally, whilst it is purely hypothetical and unprovable, I do think that Archer would have done better than Norris in 2000).

Good work Steve! Tough choices need to be taken sometimes. What would the "politics of And" suggest?! More flights, more cars AND less pollution??? Get real.

"I do think that Archer would have done better than Norris in 2000"

And you believe in UFOs also, right?

Why don't they go the whole 9 yards and put VAT on train fares, taxi fares, and bus fares. Most parts of the EU impose VAT on travel and housing, and on prescriptions.

Surely putting 17.5% VAT on train fares and Tube fares will help spread the burden of this "green revolution" ?

How's Norris doing at Jarvis ? What a fine company that is !

Am I alone in thinking that Norris is, and always was, an utter waste of space?

We need a candidate who can convince the growing ethnic minority population of London that the Tories will stand square against international US aggression.

In other words it's not enough for David Cameron to make vague anti-Neocon noises. He has to deal with the Neocon menace.

And that starts right behind him in the shadow cabinet.

It appears that the Tories might be making the first steps towards taking responsibility for their actions.

What a shame the comments on here show that Tory supporters are still stubbornly in the 'I'll do what I want, and cause whatever damage and suffering I want, as long as I want' mould.

How can anyone justify a claim that a tax on air travel penalises the poor? Tax on food, tax on clothes, tax on income maybe. People seem to think that the alternative to taxation on environmentally unsustainable actions is magically not taxing anything - maybe they think that printing money is the answer.

It is astounding how many people can close your eyes to reality and justify their own fixed viewpoint regardless.

"We need a candidate who can convince the growing ethnic minority population of London that the Tories will stand square against international US aggression."

That would be the Steve Norris who, breaking with the party line, opposed the Iraq war, and was the first Conservative candidate to reach out to minority ethnic voters (at a time the party was railing on about bogus asylum seekers and "waking up in a foreign land."

"People seem to think that the alternative to taxation on environmentally unsustainable actions is magically not taxing anything - maybe they think that printing money is the answer."

People also seem to think that reducing by a small percentage the emmissions of a second that makes up a small percentage of the total emmissions of the UK which in term make up only 2% of world emmissions will actually make any difference. It won't. We should stop wasting our time on small, irrelevent excuses for stealth taxation like this and try to implement real solutions, such as a nuclear power grid.

We need a candidate who can convince the growing ethnic minority population of London that the Tories will stand square against international US aggression.

You do ? How about George Galloway ?

What we need is a serious candidate like Steve Norris.

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