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Why were railways privatised to suck up so much public money ?

The railways will never be much use in this country because the Victorians laid the east Coast Mainline over mine-shafts which are subsiding and unless a whole new track infrastructure is built raiways will never be a viable alternative to road transport....the opportunity to do that was with North Sea Oil but the Conservative Government chose not to.....I don't think anyone is going to trust any government to tax them into the ground for mythical investments - especially in privately-owned railways

Very irresponsible of Goldsmith. He's a liabilty. Cameron must distance himself from him and Richmond Conservatives must deselect him as their candidate. The alternative is defeat.

How can he justify the Opposition's support for war in Iraq and Afghanistan, support for the British Arms Industry .. with policies like this? After all warplanes and warships burn fuel at a huge rate.

How can he justify The Olympics? Building produces huge amounts of carbon?

How can he justify new housebuilding?
Or motor racing?

Take the whole thing to its logical conclusion... ban the car, bring back th bike,

I'll not be voting Conservative again...I suspect I'm not the last supporter to say that.


'We will establish a family fund into which all of the new taxes on pollution will go.'

So the average working family is going to be taxed on two weeks in Marbella and taxed again on the car and journey to Stanstead airport but we will be offering the incentive of £20 to get married? It's a winner!

Now Zac reveals that the flight tax will not apply to Scotland???

'When I put this to the report's author Zac Goldsmith yesterday, he suggested that you could treat Glasgow flights differently from those to, say, Manchester.'

Source: Nick Robinson blog.


I knew we would get caught out over this. The whole idea of raising tax in order to change behaviour is a poisoned chalice which we should avoid.

If behaviour changes then we would be short of revenue and either we raise tax elsewhere or some area of spending must be cut. If behaviour does not change, then we would have to increase taxes even further or admit failure.

These taxes will hurt people across the board and will simply cause resentment. The majority of people do not accept the doom merchants scenario and have no intention of changing their behaviour regarding using their car or taking flights. It is only a very small extreme fringe that supports such measures.

Cameron must take note that there has been no warming since 1998. That's almost a decade of flat-lining! Global warming will soon be the greatest myth in history.

I am getting more and more depressed. The Conservative party has now been hijacked by the green anarchists - it amkes me wonder whether Cameron and his cohorts are actually socialist infiltrators sent in to destroy the Tory Party.

Zac is not as popular in Richmond Park as many would think. There is little or no difference between the policies of Goldsmith and the Lib Dems' Susan Kramer.

The local Lib Dem council is taxing 4x4s, via higher parking charges, as proposed by Goldsmith and Gummer. This report will give ammunition to the council to fight the local Tory campaign against the new charges.

One former local activist is thinking of standing against Goldsmith as an independent "True Blue Conservative" candidate.

The Taxpayer's Alliance are actually daring to criticise someone else for suspect analysis? I can't believe it. Their work (not least the laughable 'report' on green taxes) is shoddy in the extreme.

Isn't life funny. The leader's office clique round Michael Howard (step forward Dave, step forward George, step forward Ed &c) all stood up and applauded the epating for poor old Howard Flight, and for what? Telling the truth as far as I could make out. Now we have a mere PPC trashing the official party (inasmuch as anyone can make out what that is), and what fate befalls him? Oh that's right, he's one of them.

''One former local activist is thinking of standing against Goldsmith as an independent "True Blue Conservative" candidate''.

As soon as she/he announces their campaign I'll send a donation.

Any report with over 500-odd pages has one aim...not to be read. I tried, I got bored, I failed. Therefore I won't comment on it too much, but will make a few points based on what's in the news.

1. Zac Goldsmith is off-message, why? He has got to be on-message, it's his report! Cameron needs to be firm with him - all taxes are replacement taxes, not to fund railways or solar panels.

2. The idea of ring fencing the revenue is a good idea, calling it a 'Family Fund' is a bad idea. Just call it the Tax Cut Fund. Family taxes are not the best taxes to cut, I'd guess small businesses would be better served.

3. Raising certain green taxes to fund certain tax cuts elsewhere is a good idea if done right. People are correct that if the green tax changes behaviour it will thus cut revenue, but I don't think it will change behaviour that much to be honest. And wherever there's the tax cut, behaviour will change there also (but in the opposite way of course), so generating more revenue. It should balance out [see #4].

4. The green taxes (indeed all taxes full stop) should be levvied where they'll cause the least economic damage (the minimum deadweight loss). Tax cuts should be given where they'll produce the most economic gain (where the Laffer curve effect is greatest). The gain from the tax cut must outweigh the loss of its replacement tax at all times. Basically, all tax should be in the most-efficient least-economic damaging way.

5. The report is too bureaucratic and regulatory. Forget about people's homes, home improvements etc. The UK cannot save the planet from global warming. Focus on what we can achieve like better communities, more trees, cleaner air etc.

Me too. In fact I'll offer to canvass as well.

David Breaker - all very good, though on the point about Goldsmith being off-message it's because he's inconsistent and can't master a brief. Let's not forget he never even finished reading Redwood's report. Goldsmith is not up to the job.

Richmond Park? Lib Dem hold?

Can we have some evidence that any of the sour, embittered anti-Cameron and anti-Goldsmith posters on this thread - Yogi, Radical Tory, ACT, moral minority and madasafish - is a genuine Conservative?

What a bunch of time-wasting losers.

Moral Minority, which is the activist threatening to stand against Goldsmith in Richmond. Does he/she have a website yet? Where can I send money?

It is very important that Goldsmith does not become a Conservative MP. He has some dangerous, loony fringe ideas and he could do great damage to the Conservative Party. We need to check his progress sharpish.

Hello. I don't get to comment here much because I work full-time. This makes me suspicious of many of the commenters here who claim to speak for the ordinary, hard-working voter yet seem to have plenty of spare time on their hands themselves.

Anyway, a funny thing happened at work today. My employer published eight environmental headlines on our intranet today. I would like to ask all the cynics - if the green approach is so crazy, why is my employer, a highly profitable FTSE 100 company, going to such great trouble? Are they stupid, do you think? Who is out of touch? This FTSE 100 company, or the commenters on ConservativeHome? (assuming that they are actually members of the Party which I doubt in most cases.)

I have decided to reprint them here with identifying material replaced with **** because it is my policy to stay anonymous on t'internet due to identity fraud, amongst other reasons.

**** is carbon neutral: **** has achieved its target to become carbon neutral in the UK by the end of 2007.

**** leads the way on climate change: Today sees the publication of ****'s Climate Change Report, the first of its kind by any UK high street ****.

EnergyTrack goes live: From next week, Energy Track certificates will start appearing on **** buildings.

Green marketing: The ******** marketing team is helping its clients to promote more environmentally friendly messages.

Leave the car at home: People across Europe are being encouraged to leave their cars at home next Saturday, 22 September.

Carbon deal is credit to ****: **** **** has secured some top quality projects for **** to offset its UK emissions.

Green miles better: Since launching the Green Miles initiative in April, almost 2,331,500 miles have been saved across the group.

Towards greener working: A new workplace design project is maximising workspace, reducing travel time and saving money.

Tim/Sam - I wonder if it would be possible to have Common Sense rained in. He seems very interested in just attacking other posters. If he wants to defend Cameron he can but why must he attack us? We arn't trying to be PM.

I know the Cameroons are getting desperate but really they need to get a grip.

'Radical Tory' wants me rained in for attacking other posters.

Is this the same 'Radical Tory' who not only attacks official Conservative candidates but offers donations to idiots to stand against them?


Common Sense - I criticise them on the basis of their views and abilty. They are running for office and so should be scrutinised. Or do you think people who went to Eton shouldn't be scrutinised?

I'd like ConHome posters to have respect for other posters. That's the way I was brought up. Your very personal attacks on other posters prevent an atmosphere of respect amongst posters.

I'm confident of my arguments so lets focus on the issues. Are you confident of your arguments? If so prove it.

"it amkes me wonder whether Cameron and his cohorts are actually socialist infiltrators sent in to destroy the Tory Party."

Since Cameron from day one proclaimed (this year confirmed by Osborne) to be the "Heir to Blair", it is most likely that the Cameroons is an evil creation by Blair to destroy the party.

My posture is that of a traditional Conservative; and for that I do not and cannot apologise.

I do not need a 500-page document to tell me that Burke knew society is "a partnership between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born."

Or that Russell Kirk set the foundations of modern American conservatism on ten principles, and on the way observed:
"... we live beyond our means by consuming the portion of posterity, insatiably devouring minerals and forests and the very soil, lowering the water table, to gratify the appetites of the present tenants of the country... Turning away from the furious depletion of natural resources, we ought to employ our techniques of efficiency in the interest of posterity, voluntarily conserving our land and our minerals and our forests and our water and our old towns and our countryside for the future partners in our contract of eternal society."

Or that Kirk was knowingly borrowing from TS Eliot:
"... a wrong attitude towards nature implies...a wrong attitude towards God... It would be as well for us to face the permanent conditions upon which God allows us to live upon this planet."

And I certainly do not need the likes of "Common Sense" to question the commitment of those who share my doubts that Goldsmith's industry, verbosity and solutions are, to put it mildly, misplaced.

Conservative environmental policy should come down to two easily-grasped principles:

The polluter pays, because that recognises individual responsibility, property rights and freedom of (but also from wrongful and hurtful) action.

The community should not subsidize waste and those activities which harm and damage the community and the general interest. However, by the same principle, we should not be further distorting the market by "green" or "feel-good" taxes.

What is wrong with that little lot as a general statement? At the very least, it certainly doesn't require the demolition of half a forest.

The single most effective way to reduce UK carbon emmissions is to build two nuclear power plants on each of the existing nuclear power station sites.

This is quick - they don't need to go through lengthy public enquiries because the issue of whether the locations are suitable has already been settled.

This is cheap - the infrastructure to connect them to the National Grid is largely already there.

This is efficient - new plants are about a third of the physical bulk of the older ones, produce twice as much electricity and they will fit on the car parks!

This will work - IF the government provides grant funding up-front to provide a ring-fenced fund for decommissioning in 50 years time - which will reduce the cost of the electricity, so encourage people to switch to electric heating and cooking.

The end result ought to be 50% electricity generated from a zero carbon source within ten years, but even that is chicken feed when the UK's 2% contribution to global emmissions is considered, which rather puts the near insignificant proposals of this report into context.

I've been out and about all day and only seen the reaction to this this evening, though I read Anne McElvoy's comments in the Evening Standard yesterday with interest. (Strange mother she had).

Where I've been today was on a building site, where I'm putting up 21 houses with some old fashioned eco-technology - thick walls which will be cooler in summer and warmer in winter - and some fancy modern stuff - grey water recycling and a solar collector, (hot water, not PV), on the roof.

The result of this is about 30% less water and "energy" use - that's gas and electricity. But, I also met an representative from a so-called "Green" power company, because we thought as an added kick to the eco-marketing we're doing, we would set all the units up initially on "green energy" tariffs.

Questioning said rep more deeply resulted in her admitting that whilst they sell this scheme as "green energy" they can't guarantee that any more than 20% of the juice coming down the line comes from carbon neutral sources, AND they can only promise that because they buy nuclear, which they have to do because they can't count on wind energy, because it has to be "covered" by coal, gas, or oil fired plant incase it isn't "on-line".

It strikes me that whilst Gummer/Goldsmith are following the Thatcherite tradition of changing things to make people change their behaviour - think union legislation and the immediate and precipitous fall in strike actions - they are rather missing the point. Costing people more doesn't work - Labour put taxes up to 98% once, everybody didn't leave, most stayed. What works is incentives to behave well.

So, why aren't we building a new nuclear plant or two on the site of every old one, so they can be delivered quickly, provide cheaper and more reliable "green energy", and make it worthwhile for people to make a "green" choice, rather than bullying them.

To quote the next Mayor of London, Andrew Boff, the Conservative party is about liberation, or nothing! Taxes do not liberate.

Editor - I would like to add my voice to that of Radical Tory. "Common Sense" is being abusive and I hope that you will tell him to calm down and comment without making personal attacks.

TomTom - I thought we privatised the railways because the EU told us to?

There is certainly an EU directive telling member states to privatise their railways, and I think it does predate our privatisation.

Ellesmere Dragge's post seems sensible.

Where did this guy Goldsmith come from?......a rich Dad....subsidizes a magazine with minuscule circulation....and Cameron seems to pay homage to his views....for goodness sake I am a Conservative member and I'm thinking maybe Brown is a safer pair of hands....I'm not joking !

Paul - I know what you mean, but if you say things like that here the Cameroons seem to think we're Labour supporters! It's quite unbelievable how out of touch they are with the views of the membership.

I don't know why Goldsmith gets so much criticism. Isn't it about time that the party affirmed its dedication to the environment instead of pandering to the cynics ?

Of course charging people for being lazy, selfish, and inconsiderate when it comes to the environment will not be immediately popular, but the fact that Cameron has insisted taxes will fall in other areas is good and not against 'true blue values'.

I'm not quite sure why such a candidate now wants to stand against Goldsmith. Maybe if such a person took a step back and recognised the amount of work done by Zac for the party in terms of the report, and at the helm of the Ecologist, they might realise that he is an asset to parliament and the party.


I think Radical Tory should be banned for trolling.


I find Radical Tory's contributions a breath of fresh air, in complete contrast to the tedious and predictable call to ban him.

Do you hate the Conservative party as much as he does Bill or is it that he says the same thing in every post that appeals to you?

I do wonder what exactly "Radical Tory" does not like about this report.

Does he not like anything about Cameron's "project" and his policy reviews?

Maybe he sees the Daily Mail as the source of all reasoning and good judgement - perhaps not the greatest benchmark.

The reports have raised issues which Tories would have been ridiculed for in the past.

Many thanks Bill. It's always good to have debate, Cameroons seem to have a problem with debating. If they are so happy with Cameron why do they get so angry having to defend him? Perhaps they realise they can't.

Editor - if you feel i'm ever stepping over the mark please say. I have respect for you and your superb site.

Sam S - I don't like its anti-man attitude, opposition to airport expansion, VAT on domestic flights and short haul European flights, hotline for farmers, car parking charges for out of town shopping centres, its desire to rig the property market in favour of 'locals', making it harder to improve one's home e.g do a loft conversion etc etc.

I don't even read the Daily Mail. I'm happier with some Nozick, Hayek and dare I say it Ayn Rand. I'm not some 'hang em and flog em' type despite what you may think. I support gay marriage and the legalisation of cannabis for example. The idea that all anti-Cameroons are very traditional is nonsence. And thats the dangerous thing for Cameron...

Your comments are as welcome as anyone's Radical Tory, but I think we'd have more quality and diversity of comments if yourself and others didn't dominate threads with several comments each.

TomTom - I thought we privatised the railways because the EU told us to?

There is certainly an EU directive telling member states to privatise their railways, and I think it does predate our privatisation.

NO !

The EU Directive required that the accounts of the Track Business be separated from the accounts of the Rolling Stock business so there was no cross-subsidisation.

Germany is discussing this very issue as it sorts out Deutsche Bahn which will probably continue as an integrated business with separate accounting systems

Privatisation did not need to have regional franchises - it could simply have has a British Rail Transport Company running trains and a British Track Authority owning rails with a 40% cross-holding and a public float....

I'm not some 'hang em and flog em' type despite what you may think. I support gay marriage and the legalisation of cannabis for example. The idea that all anti-Cameroons are very traditional is nonsence

Indeed. In my experience some of the people who are most angry with Cameron are libertarians. I have one libertarian friend who at first supported Cameron; then rsigned angrily from the party over the EPP fudge.

What we do all have in common is that we are passionate about our principles; a quality seldom found among the say-anything-to-win faction.

On the front page of the Telegraph this morning 'Cameron pledges radical green shake-up' is immediately followed by 'David Cameron was last night embroiled in a growing row...'

And right next to it a huge photo of Brown with Maggie outside No 10 - but let's not go there now.

The fact remains that we have had a string of inept decisions from the party. First we were told that policy would emerge gradually following the expert deliberations of duly appointed 'commissions'.

As a result the press have focused on the reports of the commissions and such was the fanfaronnade that accompanied the publication of the Gummer/Goldsmith report that anybody could be forgiven for assuming that their recommendations were already set in stone.

But no, we are told. These are just a few ideas for discussion. Discussion by whom?

Cameron has already stated unilaterally that the 'Tesco parking tax' won't happen so at a stroke debate and democracy fly out of the window.

The concept of the commission system was fatally flawed, offering a rolling programme of hostages to fortune. The last few days have been disastrous, but I suspect there is worse to come, and no obvious way out of the corner the party has backed itself into.

I'm amused by these references to 'family taxation'. As a professional tax consultant, I've been unable to find a provision in any Act that imposes a tax on 'families'. Maybe someone should tell Cameron sharpish...

So our environmental tax increases arent going to improve the environment? Isnt that a form of electoral deception? When we shove environmental taxes, the public would naturally assume that the money would be re-invested into green technologies.

James, it was c. 1937 that Road Fund Licence ceased to pay for roads....it was later that National Insurance ceased to cover Unemployment and Welfare expenditures. It was probably around the time that teachers' superannuation fund went into the Big Bucket of Central Government Spending balanced by an Unfunded Liability for future generations of taxpayers.

I go to my local taxpayer centre and offer my tribute with every 20 gallons of petrol I buy - I know the tax went up to pay for hospitals - but they seem to be short of money.

I am so bored of petty larceny where they say it is for a good cause....you shouldn't play cards with sharps

Presumably if Common Sense is 'rained in' he will catch his death of cold.

Of course if he were 'reined in' he might be ok although he probably would not finish the race...

Ok Ok it's friday......

Privatisation did not need to have regional franchises - it could simply have has a British Rail Transport Company running trains and a British Track Authority owning rails with a 40% cross-holding and a public float
They were actually separate issues. All that was required was that there being separate sets of accounts for infrastructure from those for Train Operation - for auditing purposes. This applied whether there were regional franchises with Train Operation and Infrastructure being managed by one company, or if British Rail continued in existence, or if it was transferred to a not for profit company, or as was done.

I rather favour Network Rail running the whole lot really, I think though that Network Rail should get charitable status.

John Major wanted a return to the old Regional Train Companies that existed before nationalisation. If I recall correctly, Nicholas Ridley was sceptical, but felt that whether public or private it should be under the auspices of a single company nationally.


Radical Tory, moral minority etc.

This is not a blind attack by a cameroon, furious that you dare to criticise David Cameron.

This is a genuinely confused Conservative voter and activist who was shellshocked in 1997, in 2001 and in 2005 by our catastrophic general election defeats.

I'm just really curious to know:

1. What you think the Conservative Party should be doing to try to win the next G.E.?

2. And if (as I suspect) you will suggest a strong emphasis on traditional conservative principles such as crime, immigration and tax cutting, in order to reconnect with our core voters, then can you please explain why this strategy will work now when it utterly utterly failed at the last three general elections?

I'm not trying to attack you, so calm down before getting defensive. I am genuinely confused by members of the party who seem opposed to change. I don't know if I'm seeing something they can't, or they're seeing something I can't.

James - To win the next General Election we need to focus on health, education, the economy and crime. These are issues people care about, people will tell you they care about the environment because they don't want to appear 'nasty'. Some also love the environment but as soon as you start taxing them they'll vote with their feet.

We can appear different but still call for tax cuts, for example, I would like us to promise to take all those who are on the min wage out of taxation. This would be both conservative and appealing to people who are not traditional tories. It would also show Cameron isn't just a rich boy out to help the rich.

You are wrong if you think anti-Cameroons (like me) are hang em and flog em types. I support gay marriage, abortion and the legalisation of cannabis for example. You undestimate the wide pool of anger towards Cameron within the party.

I'm in favour of change. If I wanted the status quo i'd vote labour. Do you want change or do you want a New Labour clone? Real change comes in the form of zero tolerance policing and school vouchers (perhaps for the poorest third to avoid Labour's 'siding with the rich' criticsm) etc. Change is not supporting Labour's spending, Labour's city academies, Labour's NHS...

Cameron does not offer change. He offers New Labour with a green face. He offers us gaffe after gaffe, defections, low opinion poll ratings despite 10 yrs of Labour, bad by election defeats and a focus on the South East. In the North Cameron is mocked.

If you want to 'change to win' we need to first change our 'leader'.

It is an uncomfortable fact that environmental problems are not going to go away; if we do not take urgent action in a very few years with water lapping round our feet as an economic power UK.plc will be dead.

It is not a question of whether or not we have green taxation or what the tax will be used for, it is more a question of the acceptance of the essential shift of taxation towards reducing fossil fuel consumption. This is the only way that the message can be impressed on the public; you won’t pay tax if you don’t burn fuel.

The overall tax burden should be about the same; after all we still have to pay for the commitments already made. We can make economies by simplification of taxation and the reduction in civil servants; there is great advantage to eliminating some taxation all together. Here is a list of some vote winners: council tax, inheritance tax, business rates, income tax; please add your own favourites to the list. Because we are taxing fuel use we could even eliminate car tax.

Come on which politician is going to be brave enough to say it, do we have to wait for another Winston Churchill.

David, the UK could go back to the stone age and any drop in carbon emissions would be made up by China and India in less than 12 months.

Most behaviour-changing taxes only change the behaviour of the poorest in society, most people just grumble and pay the tax.

Our party is taking a doomed socialist path to the challenge of climate change and in doing so is betraying the nation.

What if we go down your path... abolish all those taxes and raise the revenues from taxes on carbon use instead.

What happens if people actually do change their behaviour? No tax revenues.

The rich people have to pay more to fuel their Porsche Cayennes and people on minimum wage have to rely on public transport.

Cameron and his mates have to pay a little more for their flights to Tuscany (offset by the fact that their high incomes are no longer being taxed) but thousands of low-earning families can't afford a fortnight in Spain anymore.

Who dreams up this nonsense?

climate change has been happening to this planet since it was formed - and whatever the IPCC and the mainstream media may say many scientists disagree with the theory that CO2 is the cause of the current changes - The ice cores tell us that over the last 500,000 years the predominant climate has been ice age, punctuated every 80,000 years or so by "interglacial" periods of mild weather which last about 18,000 years. We are coming to the end of such an interglacial period now.

That is not to say that we shouldn't be focusing hard on sustainability and weaning ourselves off the fuel sources we currently depend on - It would be insane to stumble into the inevitable post oil era without having already weaned ourselves off this finite and fast dwindling resource.

15 years ago California introduced legislation to promote the use of electric cars. They were extremely successful, but the inevitable opposition from both the oil companies and the auto manufacturers resulted in the legislation being withdrawn.

Had their success spread the oil companies would have seen a dramatic fall in profits, and the auto manufactures found that they derived more profit from the service required by petrol powered cars than from electric powered ones.

You will often hear in the media that electric cars can only have a range of around 20 miles because of current battery technology, yet the cars in California, manufactured by mainstream companies such as Toyota and General Motors, had ranges of around 120 miles on one charge, more than enough for most users. The information is available in a fascinating documentary called "who killed the electric car" which is available on DVD.

We will not bring this kind of vehicle onto the road in volume by punishing those who drive petrol cars. The Californian legislation required car manufacturers to sell an increasing proportion of cars producing zero emissions every year, and the driving public soon found that the cost of driving the resulting elctric cars was dramatically lower than that of driving petrol engines.

So-called Green taxes do not work, they simply raise the base level of taxation for the average working voter even higher than it already is.

We need much more thoughtful and realistic strategies, such as the ones deployed by California, and we need to be prepared to resist everything the threatened industries will do to oppose them.

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