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The party wants to be very careful not to attack the Lib/Dems too much on this as its clear that if we are to believed on the environment then we also will have to announce tax rises on enviromentally damaging products and services.

I notice both the Sun and the Mail fail to report the income tax deductions proposed by the Lib Dems to compensate.This way of covering the debate does no one any favours.
I believe tax is one of those subjects where we must be very sober in our approach to debate and extremely honest.My own experience when canvassing at the 2005 GE was that few people believed that we really would cut taxes. We MUST persuade them that we can.

I would prefer we use the tax system to incentivise, rather than simply raising tax Jack. That is the Conservative way after all.

You have to admire the LDs in some ways.

Although they are the archetypal party of wishful thinking, and at a local level their activists pursue whatever opportunistic agenda happens to play well in the hood, the national leadership are forever forcing the party into some very hairy tax shirts.

If the LD conference speculation is to be believed, they could emerge from this week with both their eye-watering tractor taxes AND a 50% top rate.

C'est manifique mais it sure ain't real world politics.

We should congratulate the lib dems on gettig rid of their commitment to a 50% income tax band (if that is what they in fact end up doing)

Tax breaks for cars that guzzle less seems sensible.

Holier than thou taxes on "Chelsea Tractors" (a pejorative phrase indeed - as if the owners only live in Chelsea)which will probably have no effect on their sales figures are not the way to go

Malcolm: you are right about the imbalanced coverage but voters are more likely to believe the promise of tax increases than the promise of compsenatory tax reductions. That is the political danger of the LibDem approach... and of the one we might yet embrace. Let's watch the 'LibDem trailblazers' carefully and see what we can learn...

Tax breaks for cars that guzzle less seems sensible.

One might say that this already happens through fuel duties.

In any case, as described this tax seems woefully misconceived. Cars can have larger engines and offer fuel economy, or rather thirsty smaller engines. A crude measure based on engine size, simple doesn't reflect the consumption or pollution any given vehicle creates.

It's also unsurprising that tax increases would attract more intention that compensatory cuts. Not only will people be more inclined to believe in the former than the latter, but the nature of "green" taxes means that if they work as designed, then tax revenues will fall. Where then for Nanny State's cash habit?

Gas guzzlers don't guzzle any gas unless they're being driven around, and if the intention is to use tax to reduce carbon dioxide emissions then they are directly proportional to the amount of fuel burnt. So the logical first, revenue-neutral, step should be to put more tax on fuel while reducing or abolishing road tax.

"This rabble only indulge in such wild fantasies safe in the knowledge they’ll never have to act them out." - The Sun

I think this about sums it up. The Lib Dems will never be in power so can say whatever they want and not have to worry in the slightest. The only change they ever have of power is at a local level, and one sniff leads them to wreck havoc.

Instead of taxing people (if you want to prevent supposed eco-damage) why not use an incentive scheme? At a rather simplistic level, Tesco recently changed the way they operate with carrier bags. For every carrier bag you reuse you are given clubcard points (which earn you money off products in the long run.) Since the scheme was introduced, there has been a noticable increase in the number of people reusing bags. Incentives work, people like them.

The reason the Lib Dems will lower taxes or use incentives, is because they are a party of small-minded socialists cloaked as something 'nice but dim'. Many of them don't really care about the environment - they just use it as another means to attempt to tax people even more.

Should read : "The reason the Lib Dems will never lower taxes or use incentives..."

An attack on the LD's? Great. No one remembers what the attacks are about , its just a ritual bit of abuse. Don't over analyse, most tabloid readers will forget they ever read it by the time they've got through the enormous splash on David Beckham on the following pages

James makes the very valid point that the last thing the Lib Dems want is for their environmental taxes to really work because by definition the tax yield would go down....and the Lib Dems have already agreed that the current burden of taxation is OK. So either they are insincere or they have further tax rises planned which they have still to announce.

Welcome to the world of the Lib Dems and of Jack Stone: tax, spend, waste and fail....

Anyone watching the Lib Dem conference? Ive watched it for five minutes and Ive just remembered I have some paint drying in the back...

I do wonder if having motions in a conference is really much use. It seems to old styled...

Apparently the Lib Dems are offering cash for female MPs. Rumours are circulating Brighton that someone has just offered a quid for Sarah Teather.

Nick Clegg: "After that introduction, its definitely downhill from here". I laughed...pity no one in the Conference hall did...

www.greatrepealact.com to be set up to come up with a Great Repeal Act. In fact the sites already up but links to the campaign page of the Lib Dem site... They want to sweep away old legislation they dont like.

Its definitely radical! Does it not seem rather like a different form of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill currently going through Parliament?

I agree with the wariness of others on this, Tax is a thorny issue for us. The Lib-Dems are in a different place politically, therefore their 'policy pledges' can be more rose tinted. For a party with so little to constructively add to the debate, and are so bankrupt ideologically, it would be great if we could expose them more to the electorate. Easier said than done I fear. Possible Britain will always need a third option protest vote, I just wish it wasn't them sometimes.

It's been suggested here before, but surely adding the 'green tax' element to the cost of fuel then providing assistance to rural areas with higher car dependency via a council tax rebate is the simplest and fairest way forward?

This way we can save money by scrapping the whole road tax scheme, and ensure that those who really pollute the most (c02 emission per mile x actual miles covered) are targetted rather than simply seeking to "bash the rich".

Ive given up on the Conbference coverage. Connections so poor it stops every 15 seconds to re-buffer...

Who will get the biggest ovation, Ming or Charles?

I thought George Osborn had already committed us to green taxes.

Personally I see the market/finance-led benefits or incentivised taxation but it goes against my own libertarian principles. Taxation should be done as little as possible and for the purpose of raising revenue.

Nothing else.

The Lib Dem's are going to cut basic rate by 2p but then increase it by 4p for local income tax to replace Council Tax.

Minus 2p plus 4p = 2p.

In other words, they will put up BRT by 2p and scrap Council Tax.

Denis Cooper has hit the nail on the head - road tax is in itself nonsense (altho' I can see why you should pay a small admin fee for registering a car and so on, maybe £25), gas guzzlers only guzzle gas if they are being driven. A typical Chelsea Tractor only does a few miles a day on the school run and popping to the supermarket. Even the name Chelsea Tractors is snobbery and reverse-snobbery of the worst sort.

This way we can save money by scrapping the whole road tax scheme.

Chad, I agree. There is no logic in taxing vehicles on anything but usage.

The only useful function of a tax disc is that it allows councils to remove untaxed cars that are abandoned at the roadside. However, the cost of insurance is an equal deterrent to owning a car unnecessarily – provided that car insurance is policed properly.

I'll pay a quid...no, make that 20p NOT to have Sarah Teather.

On the subject of the chubby chipmunk herself, there are reports she's going to stand in the new Brent Central seat rather than the much more winnable Hampstead & Kilburn...so we shouldn't actually have to suffer her too much longer: there's no way Brent Central will elect a Lib Dem.

Interesting that when first revealed this was spun as Liberals going for tax cuts - because they led on taking lower incomes out of tax and cuts in income tax rates. Janet Daley & co all used this as a stck to beat DC & Osborne with.

Then the awful truth dawns - it's actually about redistribution and whacking the motorist. Osborne needs to keep to tax simplification & reducing over time the percentage of GNP taken by taxation. Unless they are stealth taxes (as was fuel escalator until with price rises it took prices beyond limit of public acceptance) then any new tax results in losers shouting more than winners.

Mr Cable on Radio yesterday admitted they were still considering the property tax and that if tax revenue fell as result of success in moving people to greener cars then he'd have to raise taxes on these so as to keep the money coming in.

According to this, supposedly detailed, document:
£4.3 billion of the revenue needed to balance the books comes from scrapping higher rate tax relief on pension contributions. Whilst this seems a neat idea, Adair Turner's Pension Commission looked at this for nearly three years before concluding:

introducing a unified tax relief rate would be extremely complex as long as a significant element of DB provision remains in the system.

There's no sign the Lib Dems have found a way round this because even their own detailed document doesn't include any indication of how this will be done. The illustrations carefully include all the other tax, NI and environmental proposals, but can't even ILLUSTRATE what they mean by the pension proposals.

Yet they are going to vote on it today!

The truth about Liberal Democrat environmental action in, er, action is revealed here.

An environmental tax on NEW cars based on their gas guzzling credentials, would have a very positive impact on consumers choice of cars. An increase in tax on EXISTING cars, is just an increase in tax.

Do we expect large engined cars to be scrapped because of higher taxes? and if so would this be environmentally sensible, given the environmental cost of making a replacement?

From what I understand, the proposals will only apply to new vehicles.

So Minguselah's Jaguar and Chris Huhne's BMW will both be spared.

Apparantly Sir Ming gave his Jaguar to a museum maybe he should have joined it.

On the subject of this Lib Dem idea of a massive switch to "Green Taxes", logically if they are working and people choose less polluting options, the tax take will reduce, that being the case how will the Lib Dems make up the shortfall in state income to fund all of the services that they are so keen on, or are they going to cut services and if so which ones.

"Apparently the Lib Dems are offering cash for female MPs. Rumours are circulating Brighton that someone has just offered a quid for Sarah Teather." 12:32

More money than sense then ;)

The Lib Dems have called for legalisation of all drugs...

".....The Lib Dems have called for legalisation of all drugs..."

Which as a Conservative of the libertarian persuasion, is an idea I largely agree with. It's my body and I don't want governments regulating what I choose to do with it. Millions of people throughout the UK take drugs - legal and currently-illegal - on a daily basis. Only a tiny minority of these suffer ill effects or resort to criminality to fund their habit.

Sure, if you rob or embezzle to get money to buy currently-illegal drugs then you're as much a common criminal as the next guy - and deserve to be jailed. But if you just like an occasional relaxing joint with friends of an evening, where's the harm? Or popping a couple of E's to liven up a night's clubbing... at least you're not likely to start a street-brawl like the users of that legal drug alcohol.

Don't worry too much about the Lib Dems stealing Tory thunder over car taxes and the like as these matters are soon to be determined by the EU under the single market rules. Likewise most of the agenda at Lib Dem, Tory and Labour conferences is a complete waste of time - the room for UK action on these matters is almost gone. Sorry.

"Which as a Conservative of the libertarian persuasion, is an idea I largely agree with."

Unfortunately for the Lib Dems it's not a view that will go down well with the public.

I have much sympathy for Tanuki's comment above. If drugs were legalised, supply could be controlled in order to ensure quality, and of course taxed. Look at the amount of money that the Treasury gets from legal drugs like booze and fags.

Currently, we have a large drugs problem. If we made it legal I doubt that we would get many more users, but the revenues could be used to fund rehab etc, rather than funding BMWs for the dealers.

The trouble is that the Liberal Democrats are calling for the legalisation of ALL drugs.

Talk of relaxing with a joint or popping pills to liven up a night out ignores the fact that these drugs are all-too-often gateway drugs to the likes of cocaine and heroin, the proceeds of which are used to fund terrorism.

Raising car tax is insane, because it does nothing to discourage car use. Once people have paid that fixed cost there is nothing to discourage them from driving all they please.

Better to abolish car tax and put it on petrol. It would become impossible to evade, and people would pay based on how many miles they drove and how fuel efficient their car was.

Or is that too simple for *any* party- because none have picked up on it.

Every heroin user started on alcohol, therefore we should ban alcohol. The entire gateway argument was discredited years ago - not even anti-drugs agencies uses that one any more. Evidence from Holland, where they've completely delinked cannabis from youth heroin/cocaine abuse, shows that the only gateway effect is that of criminalisation itself - those wanting to buy cannabis are forced by idiotic policies to go to people who also sell heroin.

As for the amusing "funding terrorism" aside, that's classic propaganda, with minimal evidence. Anyway, the only reason it could ever possibly fund terrorism is that the entire supply chain is criminalised in the first place.

Of course, it would help if our puppet government in Afghanistan hadn't massively increased heroin production, after the Taliban helpfully wiped it out entirely.

I sent the editor a 100 policies on legalising drugs but it is still in his in tray. There does seem to be a degree of very careful selection about the sort of policies that we are allowed to see and vote on. Not censorship, as such of course for this is the internet, more a sense of what is proper.

As a GP I am entirely in favour of allowing all drugs to be available for sale through the NHS, not actually legalised but effectively nationalising the drugs industry. A very Tory idea and the opposite of privatising a struggling nationalised industry to see it succeeds - nationalising a thriving private industry to see it fails.

I would prefer we NOT use the tax system to incentivise. It's nosy and interfering, and begets righteous anger.

Re: comstock @ 22:08

Raising car tax is insane, because it does nothing to discourage car use. Once people have paid that fixed cost there is nothing to discourage them from driving all they please.

Car tax is not intended to discourage car use; that's what fuel duty is for. VED is intended to encourage people to buy less-polluting vehicles, so that any journeys that must use the car will have a lower environmental impact.

The Lib Dems have called for legalisation of all drugs...

... er, at a fringe meeting. Rather misleading headline from the BBC. Who'd have thought it?

Of course, it would help if our puppet government in Afghanistan hadn't massively increased heroin production, after the Taliban helpfully wiped it out entirely.

Actually under the Taliban, Afghanistan's heroin production reached an all time high. Production was then effectively outlawed (which is rather easier to do if you are willing and able to kill the farmers), most likely in an attempt to drive the price of heroin back up again (previous supplies having saturated the market).

It's simply disingenous to say that "the puppet government" subsequently drove up production. The farmers and warlords simply took advantage of the power vacuum that resulted from the Taliban's removal.

The Lib Dems have called for legalisation of all drugs...

... er, at a fringe meeting.

Surely the whole point of the Lib Dem Conference is to generate motions about giving convicts the vote and so forth, which we can then drag out in our future election literature.

"As for the amusing "funding terrorism" aside, that's classic propaganda, with minimal evidence."

Sure it is. I'm sure those IRA chaps caught in Colombia a few years back were merely there on a holiday and not sharing information with cocaine-funded terrorists FARC at all.

Well Ming has won his membership vote to change his tax policy.

They have grabbed the green tax agenda and taxes on consumption. Looks like we could have strong concensus on green taxes.

All three parties it looks like have swallowed the marxist environmentalism and are conspiring against the wider population.

Well Charles Kennedy has finished his speech.

Pretty much what I expected - the odd joke, quite passionate - but as always lightweight. He did not look like PM material - never did and does not now.

I also noted a few of his policies and was grateful I am not a Liberal Democrat.

First his desire to break England up in to regions - another political party that does not seem to recognise the existence of England.

Second, his critique of George W. Bush for not having the support of the country. Of course opinion polls are poor, but in the last Presidential election he did win a majority of votes. It is not the President's fault that some people did not vote. A political leader can only get the most votes possible within the system they operate - for Charles Kennedy to start rubbishing these election results seemed a little over the top.

Overall I felt his speech went on for too long. Only rarely does a speech that does not involve a lecturn and has lots of walking maintain a high tempo.

Finally as a Conservative I was quite warmed by the fact that the worse Charles Kennedy could throw at us was some tired old and incorrect line that all our members were people who like to sting like bees. He hardly even criticised Cameron.

Lets see how Ming does now! CK got his standing ovation before being ushered off stage by an official after a set time!!

I hate that ushering thing. I know they ahve a time limit to keep to, but this is Charles Kennedy, who could give a massive boost to the Lib Dems. Ill have to look at the speech later.

Penultimate Guy said

Car tax is not intended to discourage car use; that's what fuel duty is for. VED is intended to encourage people to buy less-polluting vehicles, so that any journeys that must use the car will have a lower environmental impact

But surely replacing VED with fuel duty would encourage people to buy more economical vehicles, causing less pollution (yes I know the colloration between MPG and pollution isn't 100% but it is very high)

The present system means that the fixed cost of car ownership is quite high, whilst the marginal cost is still fairly low. So once people have decided to buy a car there is little incentive not to use it.

VED is only one part of the fixed costs of course, but it would be the easiest to change.

The plan to increase massively the VED on cars could give us a nice leafletting opportunity in LibDem seats which should/could be Tory (most if not all!) and anywhere they have the temerity to think they could win from us. Leaflets drawn up to look like fixed penalty notices placed under the wiper blades of all cars parked in the constituency, setting out how much the LibDems want to charge the owner and setting out the better and less punitive environmental alternatives we offer.

Putting stickers on to local wheely bins showing how much more local tax the LibDems would seek to raise than the already high Council Tax level might also have a similar effect. Use your green bin and recycle waste LibDem MPs into the greener alternative!


While I can see your arguement I doubt whether taking the Lib Dems' proposed hike in VED and spreading it over the cost of the fuel consumed in the car's lifetime would provide enough incentive at the point of purchase to significantly influence the buying decision.

Angelo Basu:

Unless I've missed something, LIT is intially intended to raise about the same amount as CT. LIT rates could rise further as a result of a shift in the balance of funding, but that should be accompanied by a reduction in national taxes. You are entitled to be sceptical about whether such a reduction would occur, but that applies to whatever mechanism you use to shift the balance, not just LIT. You could argue that of all the possible mechanisms, LIT would be the most transparent, as it's sitting right there next to the NIT rate on your tax demand. If your LIT keeps going up but the NIT doesn't come down, it'll be glaringly obvious. (Who to blame might be more problematic!)

Well done to Jeremy Paxman for tearing Ming Campbell apart on his tax plans. It turns out there is a gaping hole in the middle of them.

The green taxes are supposed to change behaviour (and raising road tax from £190 to £1500 can be expected to do that), but their projections for tax revenue assume no behaviour change whatsoever!

So, they'll have to put taxes up elsewhere in order to cover the shortfall, and we haven't even begun to think about what to do with all the borrowing Gordon Brown's doing at the moment. Idiots...

I for one will not be voting for any party that proposes to charge me £1,500 for the privilege of driving a 2.0 litre car - if we try it I will vote UKIP. Sod the bloody environment.

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