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What will Zacharias Goldsmith give up ? His trips to the Mexican estate Cuixmala perhaps ?

Could he publish the list of all the flights he made last year ?


Now it may be that David Cameron said to be worth £30 million and Zacharias said to have inherited £300 million so it is understandable that they are feeling materialism burdensome and intend to give away these fortunes to charity and live as ordinary citizens live...in debt...from paycheck to paycheck

Well said. And you have managed something I thought almost impossible...found something said by Edward Heath I agree with.

I've published TomTom's comment as I expect he speaks for many but I'd prefer it if this thread doesn't make any more of the wealth of this report's authors.


With all due respect, I think Tom Tom has a very valid point. One of the main concerns with the Party's latest initiatives is the exclusion of choice to those on far more more limited family incomes than those suggested; holidays, cars, supermarkets, personal consumables etc.

There is in my opinion, a very real chance that the Party will hugely alienate many voters who came over to the Conservative Party since 1979 because we are perceived as urban liberal elitists. Moreover, and I am in this position, there are many of ous who are more affluent who profoundly dislike the Party becoming one that telss rather than encourages sets of behaviour or leaves individuals to make their own personal choices.

Re "I'd prefer it if this thread doesn't make any more of the wealth of this report's authors" Since you raise the issue, why? How wealthy are the authors? What do you imply or should we infer?

I loved the Newsnight bit on the report. The way Paxman spoke about it at the start was brilliant. I dont think he really wanted to talk about the report... Looked like he was resigned to talking about it.

Thanks Tim for posting the report early. Nice bit on the news yesterday.

The debate between the economist and the friends of the earth spokesman shows the difference between the two thoughts. I lean heavily towards the economist on this one. Moving taxation to greener taxes is a highly risky strategy and could well lead to a black hole in our public finances. An argument was put forward yesterday that it wouldnt happen as we could just reduce expenditure in some departments to pay for the core areas as we only committed ourselves to overall spending. Perhaps they could list which departments should have their budgets cut in order to pay for this redistribution? We would immediately be attacked for cutting public spending on public services.

Yet again I am reminded of just how wrong Heath was on almost everything. I am also reminded of his common use of scare tactics to get his way. As with the EEC debate, here Heath raised the spectre of a collapsing Britain as the stark alternative to ever increasing expansion.

The problem is that this vision is just as crass and simplistic as the Green vision he was condemning. I am certainly no 'greenie' in the Goldsmith mould but I do recognise that there are limits on the amount of expansion we can sustain both in terms of structural development (new housing and roads etc) and in terms of disposable consumerism.

I do not for a moment pretend to have any answers to this question. I think the problem is there are no clear answers. But just as the Greens and their successors have been wrong in their blanket condemnation of the growth of disposable consumerism, so people like Heath were absolutely wrong in painting teh alternative as being stagnation.

Whilst Labour may well deserve to lose the next general election, the Tories in no way deserve to win it. Whether by design or otherwise they have rendered themselves irrelevant. They remind me of the Liberal Party in the late 70s obsessed with cliquey irrelevances.


And why shouldn't Tom Tom comment on Goldsmith's wealth. I would have thought that the number of flights Goldsmith makes each year is highly relevant in the circumstances on the basis that nobody likes a hypocrite.

I'm all for attacking excessive materialism. But materialism is about my personal priorities, what I do with my money - do I focus on material things, on increasing my possessions or building up my store of material treasure; or do I focus on human relationships, ideas, beauty, excellence, virtue? We don't undermine materialism by denying people choice, by denying them spending power - no, by doing that we *feed* materialism, for when people feel restricted they are *more* likely to focus their efforts, skills, and attention on material matters, in an attempt to defy the restrictions imposed upon them.

So - to be sure, a critique of materialism is welcome. But restricting economic growth would make materialism stronger, not weaker.


Unfortunately, they can run but they cannot hide!

More to the point, where is the property owning democracy in these policies. It seems we are being led by a group of puritans determined to impose their pious musings and technophobia on the nation.

I think most people we need to vote for the party to win an election would prefer the prospect of a little more materialism than this nonsense

Very well said, Editor - I can second Andrew Ian Dodge's amazement at the existence of a sound Heath quote!

It is the anti-proft, anti-development, anti-human and, if we are honest, Luddite core principles of the Environmentalist movement that are most worrying.

The Gummer/Goldsmith quote at the top is utterly wrong. Whilst not all things can necessarily be solved with money, if you are unemployed, undernourished and poor life is a damned sight more difficult. This idea that there can be a too successful society, that somehow escaping financial hardship is ethically bankrupt is both twisted logic and a gross betrayal of the people we all want to help.

The fact is that a profitable society is a more comfortable, more healthy and happier society. The bizarre notion that before we became so economically successful, 14th Century farmers were happier with their hovels, pottage and Black Death is insane.

If economic 'growth' continues unabated, accompanied by population growth, a time will eventually come when the entire overcrowded and economically-unbalanced world degenerates into barbarism.

The only answer will be a general renunciation, not only of worldly goods, but of the will-to-power itself.

Those of you who have been following Michael Wood's fascinating 'Story of India' on TV may have been as inspired as I was by the examples of the Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, who renounced his throne to became a Jain ascetic, and his grandson Ashoka the Great who spread the self-denying message of Buddhism throughout his empire.

The world will need men such as these - but could they win a parliamentary election? I suspect not.

The party that gave us the three day week in the 70s, mass unemployment in the 80s, negative equity and stealth taxes in the 90s is now telling us increasing prosperity can be a burden? And just as the debt mountain is about to implode. You couldn't make it up.

The quotation at the head of this thread is too tempting not to paraphrase: "Beyond a certain point - a point which the UK reached some time ago - ever-increasing taxation and regulation can become not benevolent but malevolent. As people, it makes us less happy, and the country (in the sense of its national assets and potential) upon which all of us, and our economy, depend is increasingly degraded."

Are they really "lecturing low income families"?
Seemed to me that they are trying to broaden our political appeal my moving us away from the extremist positions of the past.

The part about low income families is perfectly justified. We are telling the public that they need to change their behaviour regarding the environment and to adapt their houses or pay for a new more environmentally friendly car. The problem is that low income families dont get the choice and find it harder to change their behaviour. Their financial situation forces them to stay in their current position and to buy what is the most cost effective, irrelevant of environmental concerns. They are then forced to pay out more money in green taxes. Green taxation will come down heaviest on those who are the poorest.

For those on bigger incomes its fine as they can afford to adapt, or to stay in their current position and simply pay the taxes. Its a bigger hit for lower incomes.

We [and Cameron] really must get a collective grip on things - the likes of Goldsmith and Gummer are making us look utterly ridiculous to the ordinary voter-in-the-street, with all this talk of increased taxes and cutting back on transport infrastructure.

If we're seriously trying to win votes from strivers, then the Gummer-Goldsmith report is the double-barreled shotgun which has just shot us in both feet.

The wealth of the preaching Born Again Environmentalists is an absolutely relevant reaction to the Goldsmith-Gummer report.
Green taxes are regressive - falling on the low paid and those Middle Englanders who are struggling to pay for private health insurance and school fees because our public services are not up to scratch.
Upping taxes on motoring, waste disposal, holidays and flights may be all very well for the well off - I remember Polly Toynbee's rant during the General Election campaign against people who hated council tax, she wrote they should be pleased to pay up because it helped society in general, but I doubt if she has any problem paying the annual bill - but it will fall on millions of voters who will be minded to say the Tories have finally lost it.

It has always been the right of birth of the super-rich to legislate for us common folk. Their superior breeding makes them miuch more fitted to make decisions. We were the victors in two World Wars because of the public school education of our officers. Without them the working class soldiers would have died in millions.

All of this free competition lark, does no good, allows tradesmen to act as though they were nobly born - must stamp that out.

I am a Conservative but people like Zak Goldsmith and Gummer give me communist moments.

Tim said....

"Let's have a debate about 'the good life' but Conservative* politicians - particularly those frontbenchers with their 115 paid outside interests - shouldn't be lecturing low income families that there's too much materalism in Britain."

I'm not going to argue with a single word of that. That is quite possibly the best thing you've posted on this blog. Very well said.

*Obviously I would say "any politicians", and there's plenty on the left guilty of this too........

Increasing material gain doesn't make me less happy - rather the reverse.

That doesn't mean there's not more to life than material gain, but to imply that it is a bad thing, as the authors appear to believe, is ludicrous.

Thanks to two centuries of increasing material gain, in this country, life expectancy has more than doubled, women rarely die in childbirth, most people are literate, scarcely anyone suffers from malnutrition, the arts can be enjoyed by more than a tiny elite, most people can afford to travel abroad, etc. etc.

And whatever the Editor may say, it does stick in the throat to see austerity being advocated by very rich people.

Money can’t buy happiness, but it certainly helps with the instalments. People are more likely to be happy when they have financial security, when they can provide properly for their family, when they don’t have to scrimp and save in the last week of a long month and when they don’t dread the credit card bill’s arrival. We should never denigrate the desire to better oneself or the lot of your family and loved ones by disparaging references to “material gain” or worse, as so often, “greed”.

What a complete joke Gummer and Goldsmith are. No wonder I hear a real Conservative will be running in Richmond to try and split Goldsmith's vote. I'll be donating to that campaign!

These men are quite simply living on another planet. They are out of touch, they make us look like something from the 1950s when the little people were told to be happy with their lot and not to want anything more. Wealth bings freedom. End of story. If some people can't handle wealth and go of the rails (its nearly always those who inherit or footballers) than thats because they are weak. Don't blame money for their weakness.

If someone is going to run against Goldsmith, so much the better. I must admit that ever since Cameron took over the thought has crossed my mind.

So the Conservative Home summary of the QOL report - lifted by a screenshot from the *BBC* - is that a very wealthy man wants to keep poor people poor and stop those on low incomes getting wealthier. Really. That's your *honest* summary of this report is it? Surely not. Lemme guess. "But it's how our enemies will portray it". Oh right. Like with those other policies of ours that you *do* approve of - our political enemies are always bending over backwards to present *them* in a fair light, aren't they? Is CH advice that the party should only advance policies which are attractive to the BBC?

My hollowest but longest laugh in reading the comments above was the one about the horrors of regressive taxation. The apoplexy over green taxes is (after I mentally delete the pious nonsense about this all being a conspiracy to stop poor people from going on holiday) impossible to fathom, coming as it generally does from the fiscal rightwing. Shifting taxation from income to consumption was one of the first - and most successful - acts of the Thatcher government. Now I'm supposed to believe, because Cameron commissioned a report which contains some recommendations that he may or may not adopt, that it's either some barmy leftwing concept motivated by a desire to return us to the stone ages, or some conspiracy by the ultra-rich to keep us lower orders in our place. No wonder we all love George Orwell so much. I wonder who's in charge of deleting the records of Howe's budget?

bill - I agree. We need an anti-Goldsmith candidate but ideally someone high profile. Wish someone like Peter Hitchens, Simon Heffer etc would do it. They'd get a bit of publicity. Haven't heard anymore about it so I think the idea is in its infancy but it needs to be pushed on.

Remember the talk before the last election of a policy being put before a group of voters, with no explanation of its authorship, where their initial reaction was along the lines of "I like that - I'd certainly consider voting for someone promising this", only to react in surprise when told it was a Conservative policy?

Well, we may have come full circle here - imagine one of the QoL policies (such as further taxation and regulation of home improvements) being put before a similar group without confirmation of its origins, leading to the reaction "what bunch of arrogant, patronising, interfering buffoons thought that one up - they won't get my vote in a million years", closely followed by the explanation that it was a potential Conservative policy?

There is a further serious point here. Long ago it was a mantra of Harold Wilson and his kind that "the gentleman in Whitehall knows best." We cannot seriously be wanting to slap down thousands of possible supporters by taking that on board for ourselves.

The above quote does suggest the authors are detached from real life. The majority of the electorate are not overburdened by material gain but are struggling with taxes, mortgages and debt. Not because of their desire for unnecessary material things but for the basics.

The comment undermines some positive proposals which is a great shame. It also makes the party look out of touch.

Radical Tory, thanks for that info. I will certainly donate to a campaign to keep that goon Goldsmith out of Parliament.

Thinking more about this, perhaps real Conservatives should consider keeping Cameron out of office at all costs on the basis that he and his cronies like Goldsmith are going to do terrifying damage to the Conservative Party in the long run. Why don't Real Conservatives stand in every constituency in the land thus ensuring that the Tories will stay out of power for the time being. I am beginnning to think that another five years of Brown is a better prospect than five years of Cameron idiocy. The man is a menace.

"Ever increasing material gain can become not a gift but a burden"

That points to altruistic retention of Inheritance Tax, then?

On the bright side, I like Section 4.2, regarding localism.

I think mr goldsmith should go back to his old beloved party (ukip) as these are not conservative ideas and to think he is preaching to us whilst being a major shareholder in many gaming companies is beyond the pale this is very hard to stomach,he thinks that less is more so he should give up some of his 300 million pound fortune and try to live like one of us and then see if he thinks less is more and gummer is the director of 7 companies so that would explain why they are going to tax us and not big business also Mr cameron may like to give some of his 30 million to charity but some how i don't think he would agree.
these fellows really have no idea about the strain middle classes are under and they have not right to be telling us they know best.

Dog Biter and Radical Tory

The Tories are making themselves a laughing stock. I do not think the Tories ever deserved being described as nasty but the term stupid is increasingly appropriate. If, when taken in the round, I as a life long opponent of Labour can begin to see them as more deserving of my vote than the Conservatives, then the sooner the party splits and offers real Tories something to vote for, so much the better.

"What I don't like in the tone of the Gummer-Goldsmith report is an apparent embrace of the belief at the heart of the green movement that growth, material acquisition and sometimes even humanity itself are enemies of the planet."

Tim, I never had you down as a Gordon Gekko type.

It's far too easy to caricature those who care about protecting the planet as being opposed to growth, wanting a return to the Stone Ages etc but that is gross misrepresentation.

In highlighting the harm caused by rampant consumerism, materialism, unfettered capitalism or whatever you want to call it (I prefer 'greed'), the green movement is not opposing growth or material acquisition, but arguing that such processes ought to be managed sustainably and responsibly.

Don't be silly Gnosis. Yes, Zac *was* an enthusiastic supporter of the Referendum Party, which materially contributed to putting Labour in office for the last 10 years. But, No, Zac mustn't ever be faulted for that. Because don't you see, there's one rule for him, but for any, oh, I don't know, silly little PPC tempted to sign up for Better Off Out, well there's an entirely different rule. It's called the You Didn't Go To Eton, But Zac and Dave Did rule. It's remarkably useful. It certainly contributes to their well-being.

Did you hear Goldsmith on World at One?

To start with he came over as a complete political innocent, but then he went all round the houses rather than give a straight answer to the question on the Tesco parking tax.

He's learning fast.

Daniel VA: "In highlighting the harm caused by rampant consumerism, materialism, unfettered capitalism or whatever you want to call it (I prefer 'greed'), the green movement is not opposing growth or material acquisition, but arguing that such processes ought to be managed sustainably and responsibly."

Be honest, Daniel; "managed sustainably and responsibly" would be bad and restrictive enough, but even that is not the same as the reality which is things like "no airport expansions - ever".

The Green movement IS explicitly opposed to growth and material acquisition. Indeed, many of them are explicitly supportive of population decrease, oppose the industrialisation of Africa and see the solution to all of their perceived problems as banning things or taxing them to discourage their use.

A quick glance at the Greenpeace web site has shown that they have welcome the report as trying "to break the link that the only way for people to improve their lot in life is to earn more, own more and consume more." That seems pretty anti-acquisition to me.

You might try to smear it as "greed", but I'd call it development, education, employment, food, healthcare, clothing, housing, comfort, contentment and safety. None of those things have ever been provided by banning things, or by hobbling the market - indeed, whenever that has been tried it has reduced those factors. Capitalism may not be perfect, but it is better than the alternative.

DVA, but much of the environmental movement really is opposed to economic growth, and does dislike mankind.

Think of the nutjobs who want to fine people for having more than two children, or want to cut our population to 30m.

The most materialistic society I ever came across was the Soviet one and not just in grand Marxist terms - nobody believed in that tosh by the time I knew it - but in every day ones. People were obsessed with what they bought or what they might have bought or what there was or was not to buy. All to do with lack of economic growth and lack of individual material prosperity. And no, they were no happy people either. Who would be if they had to queue for hours after work in order to get the simplest things, including food?

I've often wondered what wealthy people do when they have everything they want. Once they had the dream house, dream location, dream car, even a dream wife, what then? Do they get bored, does that bordom make them unhappy?

As a hobby I collect old Hollywood musicals and nothing gives me greater pleasure than going in a charity shop and being able to find a Deanna Durbin album for a quid or a book on Betty Grable for 50p. I often wonder if all such little pleasures are denied to the very wealthy? Does having too much lead to an unhappiness of sorts?

While I have certainly nothing against wealth and prosperity I can't help thinking that being stinking rich must take the edge of life.

"In highlighting the harm caused by rampant consumerism, materialism, unfettered capitalism or whatever you want to call it (I prefer 'greed'), the green movement is not opposing growth or material acquisition, but arguing that such processes ought to be managed sustainably and responsibly."

Managed by who? The problem is that the Greenies believe in empowering the state to make us all behave. Yet private people and companies have an interest in conservation - if you own a forest that you make money out of it's in your interest to conserve it. Conversely, the record of the state (note the USSR) is not very encouraging.

Simply turning around to people and telling them that material wealth will make them unhappy will just annoy them, especially coming from the Conservative Party.

The argument that material wealth will merely make people unhappy is a luxury of the affluent, however on activities damaging the environment there do need to be price incentives to restrict use of certain resources. There is no point pretending that this won't result in hardship for some people.

Sorry to drag up an old-ish thread, but does anyone know what Heath was refering to when he made that quote about expansion, and where/when he said it? Was it actually the Green movement? In the 1970s there wasn't a Green-Left as we know it today surely?

Google only brings me back to this thread, and Hansard online doesn't go that far back.

I'm writing a piece about how the Green/Left alliance is an unholy and illogical one (Greens seek to make the strong weak but Socialists should seek to make the weak strong kind of thing).

Brilliant quote (and I fully intend to source it)

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