« Public trust local charities - not the central state - to help people in need | Main | All comment threads are now being moderated »


Labour will of course be ready to pounce. It would be so easily for Labour to portray Cameron as an out of touch elitist. It would fit in so well with his background. They could argue that he is attacking the aspirational class - those who want plasma tv's and fly on planes within the UK. Cameron risks walking into their trap and probably will if his record is anything to go by.

The point about Heathrow (or rather, airports in respect of competitiveness) is critical.

There are some quite crazy Conservatives - notably Putney's Justine Greening - running around attacking Heathrow on any pretext imaginable, presumably on the misguided basis that she believes none of her constituents use aircraft.

In recent weeks she's attacked John Redwood's report for making the blatantly obvious point that for London to remain a world class capital we need sufficient capacity and improved facilities at its airports.

She's also been pursuing a line that the only reason Heathrow Terminal 5 received the go-ahead was because the Department of Transport has been over-run by BAA employees: conspiracy theories more at home on the X-Files.

The Conservatives really need to get a grip on people like Greening because you can't have it both ways; if you're against any development of Heathrow then say so and be portrayed by Labour, rightly, as a threat to London's economy - but if as I suspect, Redwood better reflects the party's position on this then it is unacceptable for a minority of MPs to be attempting a pale imitation of the Liberal Democrats and opposing national party policy (and common sense).

Threaten any Labour MP who votes for the EU Reform Treaty without a referendum commitment, contrary to their manifesto pledge, with trial for treason when you next obtain office, this might avoid you having to carry out the former and even achieve the latter, and show you are serious about power.

Wake up, democracy is threatened and you are worrying about plasma tvs and stand-by buttons, while being fronted by one who seems to understand neither.

The key issues are crime, health, economy and education.

However when we talk about the environment we need to focus on encouraging practical new ideas and technologies. Everybody can agree that systems are better if they are more energy efficient, even if some of those people are sceptical about climate change. If we must use the fiscal system it should be to reward not punish.

"Threaten any Labour MP who votes for the EU Reform Treaty without a referendum commitment, contrary to their manifesto pledge, with trial for treason when you next obtain office.."

But then, bearing in mind the deceit, betrayal and treason that many would say Ted Heath engaged in during 1972 when he gave away British sovereignty and lied to the British people about what membership of the EEC would entail under the terms negotiated ('abject surrender' would be a better term), surely he should have been tried for treason as a first off.

It would be a bit rich, considering the fact that the Tories have been as dishonest as the Labour Party has been over the EU.

Any mention of banning plasma TV's or sky-high green taxes and Labour will walk right over us.

If the writers of this report had any sense, they'd read this thread and quickly and quietly get rid of any loony proposal that's going to make us look ridiculous.

I've got a feeling, that this final policy group will be the worst of them all.

“Green taxation is unpopular”. Surely more popular than taxing income. Reduce income tax, and people would have more choice on how to spend their own money, even if on things that attract green taxation. I assume John Redwood’s recommendation for a “mindset shift to tax relief for planet-friendly activities” means no extra green taxes on anything while instead incentivising environmentally more friendly behaviour with tax relief? Excellent idea – would presumably mean tax relief on rail tickets? This, in addition to avoiding any accusation the Ed points to about using green taxes as a stealthy way increasing the tax burden.

“Green action mustn’t punish the poor”. Don’t quite follow the argument that VAT on domestic flights will hit the poor, while later referring to (taxing) the budget getaway-to-the-sun for low income families. Leaving aside the puzzling association with between “domestic” flights and the “getaway-to-the-sun”, I wasn’t aware that the islands of Scotland were a particular destination for low-income families. Newquay, Cornwall, possibly but that is far from sum total of domestic flights. Many domestic flights are on are non-holiday routes where there are adequate trains. Anyway do all the low-income families take holidays involving cheap flights? And is the idea that any taxes on flights would not be sufficiently punitive to make flight unaffordable for most families?

Attacking "the hedonistic treadmill" does seem a bit ‘preachy’. However I suspect there may be a point here. People seem to have holidays abroad at ever increasing frequency, but even more modest holidays in the UK can make a huge hole in the budget.

As for the argument about competitiveness being damaged by not expanding airports, if domestic flights were reduced where there are good train services, would slots become available for long-haul flights, thus making airport expansion less necessary? The point about the dangers of energy security making use of renewable energy more desirable is most important – probably prudent to become non-reliant on imported fuel.

I think that green and quality of life issues are a good legitimate and natural “centre ground” theme for Conservatives. But this must include opposition to building on countryside, sports fields and peoples’ gardens. Perhaps the increasing lack of family houses with adequate gardens contribute to the peoples’ desire for more frequent getaways from their cramped flats or hemmed-in houses.

On the whole, a very good editorial. The only question I'd ask those on the "traditional right" would be 'do you mind if green taxes increase if the general tax burden goes down?'

I will gladly shake the hand of any politican who bans those thin, flimsy carrier bags that are usually handed out by small retailers. The bags themselves are basically useless and tear against anything with a corner. I'd like to see carrier bags produced to a certain standard of thickness and durability. Those flimsy carrier bags are a big environmental problem, blowing into peoples gardens, getting caught up in telegraph wires and trees.

Tony - Get yourself a couple of those nice jute shopping bags from sainsbury's or tesco's. 50 pence to a quid. sturdy handy bags. Keep one rolled up in your briefcase. Sainsburys (50p)are smaller and OK for this. If driving, keep a couple in the car. Sorted!!

Annabel, you beat me to it. Realised that plastic bags were dispensable, and habits could be changed when on holiday in Europe this year!

I really don't like the religious type zeal being given to these GREEN issues and talk about banning plasma screens is just daft.
I expect the public will embrace this like a lead balloon.

They should ban plastic wrappers around junk mail.

Obvious junk mail in paper envelopes goes straight into my recycle bin without being opened. I really resent having to rip off plastic bags from the rest.

That includes the monthly mag of my professional body which also goes straight in the sma e bin (unless I'm looking for a job)

Justin, I'm not on the traditional right, but for what it's worth, surely it depends on:

a) which general taxes are cut - if the cuts are for things like inheritance tax, which broadly favour the wealthier then there's a problem, and

b) how much of a shift is involved, because green taxes are always going to be regressive; hitting everyone the same regardless of income - and again, that's a problem; for me anyway.

That said, I'd like VAT radically reformed so that it becomes a genuinely value-added tax: in other words there can't logically be one flat VAT rate: things that it takes more energy to produce, or have a more damaging impact on the environment(and there could be plenty of other criteria) should incur a higher rate; healthy stuff, or enviro-friendly stuff should have a lower or non-existent VAT rate; carrots as well as sticks, as it were.

But we need to renegotiate our relationship with Europe before we can reform VAT.

John Boyd called Labour's 1983 Manifesto the longest suicide note in history - I think Goldsmith is preparing a longer one for the Conservatives

Super editorial. Encouragement is the way forward. Most people want to be green if they are encouraged to be so.

"“Green taxation is unpopular”. Surely more popular than taxing income. "

I wouldn't be too sure of that, Philip. Nobody likes taxes of any sort, but income tax is the only fair and progressive tax.

There is such hypocrisy in using 'green' taxes instead of income tax......"we know XYZ is bad, so we are taxing it........but actually we need you to carry on doing it because we need the money"

I've said it before, I'll say it again- 'Green' taxes are only green if there is an alternative, otherwise they are just taxes.

One environmental policy that Cameron should adopt regards MagLev trains. These have a vital green effect not because of their effect on cars or planes but because of their effect on HOUSING.

A high speed Mag-Lev train would bring many more places into commuting distance of London. Birmingham would be within natural commuting distance - and even Newcastle would become just feasible.

This dramatically increases the housing supply for people working in the South East while reducing the amounts of Green belt that have to be dug up to build new houses in Essex, Kent and Hampshire.

Houses in Birmingham are also cheaper than those in London so the increase in supply would reduce the excessive house price inflation in the South East.

A Maglev train would be expensive - but a cost benefit analysis that all the cost savings may show that it is in fact the cheapest solution to the housing crisis facing London.

Good point Edmund. I think as a party we need to be technologically ambitious and not be sucked into any anti-development mindset. A proper cost-benefit analysis makes all sorts of projects viable to the nation.


This isn't a trite marketing catch-all but Carbon is going to be priced, the mechanisms are already in place through the EU ETS. Whether or not you agree with man made global warming, carbon is going to start to become expensive.

Domestic consumption accounts for a quarter of the CO2 emissions of the country. Transport (including personal) accounts for another quarter.

The fastest rising emitter is the aviation industry. However, to curtail this growth, there is a paucity of tax controls on consumption. Aviation fuel is not taxed and cannot be for international flights without global agreement.

On this small island there can be little justification for flying on internal routes. Trains can do this job. France has extended the Eurostar in all directions and its TGV service is fast, efficient and keeps local flights to a minimum. We should look at the TGV service and bring it to the UK. Rail emits only a 1/4 of the CO2 than a plane for the same passenger miles.

Ms. Greening's line on Heathrow isn't a lunatic fringe of the Conservative party but also countless other MPs, local Conservative councils and local authorities are vehemently against further Heathrow expansion. These objections are on very solid grounds. Air pollution in the area is already above EU 2010 legal emission levels which represent already a huge economic cost to expansion. Rehousing up to 35,000 people (which will be a legal obiligation of EU 2010) will have serious economic consequences to the local area that is already bursting at the seams.

For an aviation industry that is a net importer and makes a small contribution to GNP on its own, it has to be asked whether this is a economic investment worth making. The Conservative position up to 1997 was to encourage the aviation industy to build a new hub airport well away from such a densely populated conurbation.

As for Heathrow's Third Runway, it is a total volte-face from BAA only a few years ago and in front of the T5 public inquiry.

As for Heathrow's impact on the London economy, it is a transit hub with 50% of its passengers never leaving the airport. Even the proposed runway is to serve short-haul flights to serve that transit aspect, it is not to serve holiday makers, rich or poor.

Such corporate double-dealing should be scruntised and also effectively dealt with. Green policy making should also not heavily focus on the consumer but also take producers to task also.

Green taxes have to be there to encourage good behaviours not penalise existing ones.

I would like to see more done to encourage the installation of energy saving light bulbs, heating efficiency, local power generation, home insulation and recycling. I want to see the tax system used to encourage and reward good behaviour.

In terms of car use, the Conservative proposals on a purchase tax of low mpg cars is laudable. I would be more radical, announce that road pricing will never happen but do more to encourage children onto buses for school and tax breaks on public transport tickets. In terms of running buses, change operating contracts to award them on utilisation of the seats on the bus.

There are many aspects of the secondary economy that can be controlled in this way too. For example, road haulage has rocketted at the expense of warehousing stock. It's cheaper to keep goods on the move than to locate them nearer to areas of consumption. Rail haulage has declined markedly as a result as it not as timely.

"On this small island there can be little justification for flying on internal routes."

How about because the train is too expensive?

How does raising internal flights costs solve this? All that will do is price poorer people out of long distance internal travel completely.

This report looks like the last nail in the coffin. DC told us the other day if we didn't support his policies the conservatives would lose the next election. Seems he is the last to know he has already lost it. The only issue now is damage limitation. Rich young men telling the people they have too many mobile phones or go on too many holidays is laughable. As Harold McMillan said this sort of preaching should be left to the Bishops.

Brown's just set out some of the reality of globalisation to the TUC. If DC and his set get their way the country will end up as a museum.

“Green taxation is unpopular”. Surely more popular than taxing income. Reduce income tax, and people would have more choice on how to spend their own money, even if on things that attract green taxation
Exactly, no tax is popular, but I'd rather have more of my own money and the choice of how to spend it.

Tax incentives for being green are fine but cost money, this means taxing the public to fund green tax incentives! A tax incentive for being green is no different to a tax on all other [non-green] behaviour, i.e. green is favoured at the expense of everything else.

Far better have a few green taxes as a replacement tax to fund either the green tax incentives (carrot and stick) or just general tax cuts. This way a behaviour that's particularly bad for the environment pays for the green subsidy, rather than all other behaviour that's not getting the green subsidy. For example a green tax incentive for solar panels means the whole economy pays, but if it's funded by a green tax on aviation only the aviation sector pays.

I however favour general tax cuts (in particular IHT and income tax) funded by green taxes as these would be far better for the economy than incentives for solar panels etc.

Justine Greening's opposition to expanding airports is not lunatic fringe, it's the view of a great number of her constituents and of the Conservative MPs, councillors and voters who live near these airports or their flightpaths. As 50% of Heathrow's flights are transit only, the passengers never leaving the building, Schiphol can have them!

I'd not call the opposition crude either, what I would call crude is the State and BAA drawing lines on ordnance survey maps and compulsary purchasing all in their wake, over-ruling local councils, property rights and people's lives. It's private property, the State should leave people alone.

I agree that there must be alternatives as well. A high speed rail network would be great. Maybe not MagLev, but it's worth a look still. Ideally road vehicles should be able to drive on/off the trains at major road junctions, like they can with the Eurotunnel Shuttle.

David T Breaker,

I heartily agree with the CPO issue, private property should be sacrosanct in law. Properties under threat CPO should be served within 6 months of the order and compensated above the current 10% 'nuisance' allowance.

This is how many European countries make progress on planning large projects.

The Government have rode roughshod over communities regarding airport expansion. Bearing in mind it was announced in 2002, still no final decision regarding Heathrow has been made. How can you compensate a homeowner under blight and a potential CPO after that length of time?

London's eminence has not happened because of Heathrow. BAA go to great expense to advertise this but it has more to do with Sarbanes Oxley than Heathrow. I would happily argue that London thrives in spite of Heathrow!

David, please evidence your claim that "a great number of [Justine Greening's] constituents" oppose expanding Heathrow - because I've seen no polling on this matter.

Putney residents are concerned, legitimately, about aircraft noise. Where she (and evidently, you) gets muddled is confusing that for opposition to air travel, use of Heathrow, demand for lower cost flights and improved services at London's main airport.

Here's a far more convincing claim: a great (and growing) number of Greening's constituents use Heathrow airport. Now, it's not impossible to imagine that some of these people hold utterly contradictory views: as residents they oppose growth of Heathrow; as holidaymakers and businesspeople they want better service, wider choice and cheaper flights.

I suspect that forced to choose, Putney residents will align with the latter view rather than the anarchist, flat-earth, Marxists that Greening seems oblivious she's climbed into bed with.

Either way, Greening is not speaking for her Party or her constituency and is demonstrating either utter stupidity or gross cynicism in the views she's advocating. And whichever it is, it's not impressive.

The danger will come from not being willing to take tough decisions to tackle climate change. People are increasingly minded to change their behaviour.

Zac Goldsmith and Bono, could you slide a fag packet between them in their dedication to saving the planet? We need to respect our environment but the issues surrounding the hypothesis of climate change deserve to be discussed objectively and in the context of the effect of this country's GDP (or happiness - get on your bikes - index).

Exhortations from wealthy dilletantes who live in a parallel universe will cut little ice with the voters at the next general election. What will determine the Tories' future is their ability to convince the voters that they will run the country more competently than Mr Brown. May I suggest that DC gives Mr Gummer the task of promoting hamburgers and let John Redwood sort out the core issues that will determine our success at the next election?


Blair was u useless pm, but at least he pretended to care. He TALKED about what we wanted to hear, ie crime/nhs/schools.immigration. Fair enough he ruined it, but at least he TALKED about it, and he won 3 times. Never heard him banging on about GREEN issues as much as DAVE maybe thats why he won with a landslide.

Not a lot of technical thought has gone into these proposals - its very unlikely that manufacturers of mass produced consumer items(all foreign based) will design special versions for a restricted UK market. If they do the products will be far more expensive.

Also theres a good reason for leaving a computer on standby - it reduces the risk of hard disk failures caused by repeated stop and startup.

With an infinite number of monkeys and typewriters you'll get Shakespeare, with ten monkeys and one typewriter you'll get the Gummer-Goldsmith report.

There's a laugh on every (randomly selected) page. Surely the only people who will actually read the whole thing are Labour researchers looking for ways to skewer the Conservatives. It reads like a student union manifesto from the 70s -- a 5-Point Plan to end world capitalism with a 65-Point Plan to improve the standard of Union beer.

Just one of the balmy ideas -- a ban on electrically powered air-conditioning. Though, apparently gas-powered and biomass-powered AC are fine!

Dave only has himself to blame for asking two of the party's biggest nitwits to write the report in the first place.

Rob Johnston

PS: How many trees had to sacrifice their lives for this 550 pages of drivel?

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker