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Re "We are saying that because of the VAT relief, we would require homeowners to upgrade the energy performance of their homes." What does that mean? Sounds suspicious to me. We have a lot of old housing stock in this country which try as you may is hard to make energy efficient especially compared to modern standards (I know because I have tried). So what do we do? It costs a lot to backwards engineer and is generally inefficient. And knocking down old houses and starting again makes no sense either. Why not just tax the rich (i.e. not the struggling middle classes) and let them pay instead. No of course not. So leave us alone.

he tories ditched the green agenda we would have less problems in the party

Well said Zac, the report contains some of the best recommendations that Cameron has received thus far. We have to acknowledge that markets have done nothing to incentivise the changes needed in time to make a difference. "Blueprint for a Green Economy" puts the case intelligently for a Green Revolution, conservativism that is in the same tradition as Disraeli, Shaftesbury and Wilberforce before.

''We are categorically NOT proposing to tax holidays. We are ONLY targeting domestic, short-haul, commuter flights'' - Zac Goldsmith.

Have you ever considered that some people in this country go on holiday in other parts of the UK which you may just see as a 'commuter flight'. We don't all go on holiday to Mexico.

Even if you are right, which you arn't, the fact that this has been allowed to get out of control and receive so much bad press shows that the Cameroons are not serious about winning. You were off-message in your interviews Mr Goldsmith so you have made this alot worse.

I haven't looked at the report (no doubt, many of its critics haven't either), but does it undertake to consult with industries (especially the car industry) to get their co-operation in phasing in cleaner products?

Some facts that ought to interest Zac.

So many young people do not bother to vote because issues of concern for them are not taken seriously by the major parties. The environment is one of those issues that many young people have a great deal of concern for and may actually encourage them to go out and vote.

A welcome antidote to some of the misinformation. Zac, do not be discouraged by the initial reaction to your report by some Conservatives (or, in the case of these blogs, by some claiming to be Conservatives who may or may not be so); there are many of us who are longstanding Party members and who are very encouraged that our Party is at last making the running on this.

However, it was a pity there was no executive summary, or at least a list of the recommendations (or principal recommendations). Whilst this might make it more likely that a few of us sit down and read the whole report (I intend to do so this week-end), it has made it easier for people to cherry pick their own misleading tit-bits. Maybe even now a separate web only publication of an exec summary would be useful?

The free market will and does help the environment. For example multinational corporations introduce cleaner technology because they have alot to gain from uniform poroduction with uniform technology. The more investment occurs the better control there is over air pollution for example. For example only 30% of Indonesian countries comply with environmental regulations whereas 80% of multinationals do.

The cure is capitalism not government.

This report is perhaps the most important document of the whole policy process because if we get this wrong, there is not going to be a way to fix our planet.

As an industrialised, rich country, we have a duty to lead the way on issues such as climate change, energy security and overall quality of life. Complaining that whatever we do is meaningless against the actions of rapidly industrialising countries is pointless and defeatist, and entirely goes against the fact that we believe 'we're all in this together'.

We should and must take the lead, show what can be done, and encourage others to join us in recognising that our planet is the only one we have, and we must do everything we can to preserve it.

It's right that true carbon and environmental costs should be borne by the polluters. Moving taxes from goods (ie work) onto bads (ie pollution) is a classic Tory way to recognise the impact that our actions have on our society.

The authors recognise that returning to the Stone Age is simply not an option; they have instead proposed a set of policies which are people-led, to incentivise us to work towards a greener, cleaner, healthier environment.

Sounds like furious backtracking from Goldsmith (probably prodded by Cameron.)
Mr. Goldsmith, don't you know that even suggesting supermarket car parking charges is on the same level as closing public lavatories? i.e. political suicide.
And what about country people who rely on 4x4s?

Damage done, I'm afraid.

"Our view is that greater access to the outdoors, better food, is part of the answer"

I'm just off to Brixton to find some drug-dealers to take hiking, I'll stop off on the way and make sure they have enough Muesli....

I mean. COME ON!!!!

Good for you, Zac, this is wildly different to the media spin. Keep writing op-eds and debunk this nonsense.

Most of this is fairly reassuring. I particularly like "all home improvements should be VAT free" as the current system unfairly discriminates against renovating old buildings as new builds can claim VAT back. This policy should be highlighted.

Those are good answers.

The story is looking better and better for the Conservatives. Very positive coverage in the Times today.

The story is looking better and better for the Conservatives. Very positive coverage in the Times today.

Yes. I suppose it had reached the stage where the only way was up.

Some of the posters on this thread remind me of the Neil in the Young Ones. Too much.

The greatest pity about this report is not its content though some of it is worded badly and bits of it are daft but the lack of an executive summary and key TORY messages journalists could take away from it.

Journalists weren't hand held and went with the first decontextualised rumours of the contents. The party really needs to up its game in this regard.

Not enough hunger to win from some of our MPs and apparently all of CCHQ - we must do better.

Oh for goodness sake. Landfills were more or less banned by the EU and, as far as Britain was concerned, they were far more environmentally friendly than the incinerators we shall have to put up with.

Secondly, VAT cannot be reduced or got rid of by member states. It is an EU tax. Somebody explain that to Zac. His father knew that. Did he learn nothing from the old boy? If there is a Conservative government (a big if) and if they want to reduce or abolish VAT on certain cherished projects, then they will have to do what Gordon Brown did about VAT on domestic fuel back in 1997 - crawl to the Commission and hope that they will be allowed to put whatever it is they favour on minimum VAT, that is 5%. But what is the use of making something that you have no right to do a policy?

Well, I've got to say well done to Zac for getting this information to CH. There is clearly many areas of the report that are getting poorly communicated to the national press, and one has to conclude that the policy committees are doing a great job, but we are severely missmanaging their findings. Where is the imagination here. We could be having great debates, staged rollouts, national discussions. PR has gone to the dogs. We need to roll it back, take stock and realise that we are sitting on both political time bombs and gold mines at the same time. I am desperate to usher in a time when Conservatives got savvy once more. Its the difference between opposition and power, and all the time Labour laugh....and pass laws like labour will do in power, again and again.

"It's about pushing business to be less wasteful and more efficient" [?????]

Who would have a greater incentive to trim the than the business itself? This statement reveals a complete ignorance of the most elementary principles of economics.

I've heard it said that Zac only joined the Conservative Party because the Green Party didn't want him.

Well Done Zac. Please ignore some of the derogatory comments from other bloggers.

Many of them would only be happy if we had policies from the 19th Century.

The tax cuts are balanced according to Goldsmith...are we sure about this? Do we have the numbers to back this up or is this just a remark to fob us off? Goldsmith would be well advised to come up with some figures to back up his assertions there.

Regarding the HPI, if we wish to improve general well being, surely we would wish to find a way of measuring it? Therefore why is Goldsmith saying we dont want a Happy Planet Index?

As for the point regarding regulation, he tries to make the distinction between outcome specific regulation and process oriented regulation. I struggle to see the difference.

Example: The A-List. We wish to ensure that more females and ethnic minority PPCs (the product) come through the system, but the leadership cant trust Associations (the businesses/process) to make that happen, so they therefore place regulations and restraints on the ability of the Associations to make its own decisions regarding the candidates.

If you wish to control the outcome it is necessary to control the process. Your argument is Socialist.

Try again Zac...

Many of them would only be happy if we had policies from the 19th Century.

Personally I'd prefer policies from the 17th Century.

That's the last time the country was governed by real Tories.

Don't care what he says, he's still a poor-little-rich-kid, playing at politics with his dad's ill-gotten monies and propounding his idiotic eco-fascist opinions.
We should not be pandering to this fool, show him the door, let him bankroll the Greens or finance his own party, like his father.

Perhaps we can have an eco-government now. After all we apparently no longer need any party system now that Zac Goldsmith and John Gummer appear to be able to solve this country's entire transport, economical and environmental problems in one 500 page report.

Wherever Jimmy Goldsmith is now, I bet he is just laughing his head off at the naive stupidity of the Conservative Party in sucking this complete and utter balderdash in.

George Hinton @ September 15, 2007 at 12:00:

"Don't care what he says, he's still a poor-little-rich-kid..."

Well, doesn't that sum up the motives of many (not all, I accept) of Zac's

Don't care what he says - because of his background I'll stick my fingers in my ears and whistle!

I thought this sort of class hatred only came from members of the Labour Party...

Hang on! That explains a lot...


Sir James Goldsmith is turning in his grave on what hes son has become. Zac would have no place in his Referendum Party.

Ismail - I agree. How did he even get in the conservatives?

Goldsmith said this about globalisation: ''It is about the erosion of democracy, and the advancement of big corporations''. We believe in capitalism in this party. What's he doing in our party? He criticises the system which made him very wealthy.

He's like one of those rich public school boys who in the 1950s thought the USSR was wonderful.

I hope a true blue tory stands in Richmond to take some votes away from him and hopefully stops him. I'll be donating to that campaign!

Zac Goldsmith "We don’t say anything of the sort. We point out that despite huge material gains for most people in recent decades, our children are among the unhappiest in the world. We base this view on the results of a large number of studies including UNICEF and the so-called Happy Planet Index. This is a huge issue. Our view is that greater access to the outdoors, better food, stronger communities is part of the answer."

Zac Goldsmith contradicts his own report, which clearly says that the government should adopt a measure of wellbeing. This Q and A is a pathetic attempt to fob us off. He honestly doesnt know what the report says as the information he gives here is highly inaccurate and misleading.

Im sure some of the eurosceptics here would like to know about the reports promotion of the Common Agricultural Policy. Is Goldsmith and Gummer proposing the reversal of a key EU policy for the Conservatives?

For those who have mentioned the lack of summary pertaining to the 500+ page report, the Policy Group have published an Executive Summary on their website http://www.qualityoflifechallenge.com

Sir James Goldsmith is turning in his grave on what hes son has become. Zac would have no place in his Referendum Party.
I recall Sir James Goldsmith appearing on a slot on Channel 4 and saying that life was about far more than simply expanding the size of the economy or about personal material wealth - easy for him to say of course.

As for the Referendum Party - it was a single issue party on the matter of the Single Currency, it had backing from George Gardiner through to Austin Mitchell. There was no party line on any other issue unlike UKIP - any Referendum candidates elected would effectively have been Independents on every other issue.

I agree with everything that Simon Heffer wrote on the GG report. There are certainly some good points to the report but others are sure fire vote losers.

18 months ago my wife and I were invited to
Manchester for a 25 year presentation. We enquired about the cost of rail travel first and were quoted £150 each from Hastings.We then
heard of low cost flights from Gatwick and paid £30 each return. No choice really. The rail network has over priced tickets.In this case the time was also shorter using plane. Public transport has to be made cheaper more efficient and safer.

Let's use another example family of four both husband and wife working. Their only real time for shopping is when the small shops are not open. Yet we are suggesting that they should have to pay to park at the supermarket.

Simon Heffer is right as regards the motor
car. It has been truly liberating for the working class and has been one of the
greatest examples of equalisation in a free society there can be. Incidentally I have had to change to a bigger car in view of the amount of material etc I have to carry about for the Party.

Our competitiveness would be badly effected by many of these proposals. India and China need to look to their pollution problems which are far greater than ours.

David Cameron should repudiate most of these proposals and start looking at tax cuts seriously if any so called green taxes are to be implemented.

During the last two weeks or so we have been very active in Hastings and survey canvassing carried out with our excellent PPC Amber Rudd shows no great interest in the Environment people seem more concerned with the real nitty gritty of Crime,the NHS, Education and lower Council taxes.

Honestly Zac, what kind of muppet spends 18 months in a policy review group to create a 500+ page report which is so easily misinterpreted that you have to go on the record the following week to try and sort out the mess?

You and John Gummer have brought shame on the Conservative Party and I seriously hope you feel the ramifications for this.

Zac doesn't understand that the working class do not like being patronised. Does he honestly believe that they will vote for a party that will make their yearly holiday to Spain most expensive; that is if they can afford it after making their car dearer as well.

Patronising "young people" is daft as well. Yes young adults at university are all aflutter about climate change and all the other trendy issues. How about all those young adults who have a job and working hard to make ends meet. Surely they care about a job and keeping their costs down more than flaky enviro-loon policy.

Mr Goldsmith - As one who has worked for a living since age 16 and run several small businesses I am able to assure you that businesses need no government regulation to be "less wasteful and more efficient". Many small businessmen could tell you more about this than you could possibly imagine

It is Governments that need to be more efficient and less wasteful.

Also, for your information, it is a small percentage of the populace who have plasma screens.

With regard to abolishing "The Building Regulations" I presume you have nver heard or seen [even in Mexico] buildings collapse due to cost-cutting and the use of sub-standard materials.

Local authorities do not have a problem with the cost of parking on the High Streets. Customers and small traders have a problem with the availability of parking. Local authorities have another agenda which is to maximise income from soft targets. Councils such as Lewisham and Camberwell can boast parking enforcement as the main borough occupation and obsession.

Mr Goldsmith. The recent proposals to effect a reduction in carbon consumption are at best half hearted and many would consider them purely cosmetic and playing round the edges. If we are to produce a real change in attitude then a different regime is needed.

To concentrate the public mind on green issues we need to increase the cost of all fossil fuel, not just motor fuel. I believe that a levy on all fuel eventually doubling the cost of the basic fuel should be about right. This will not double the cost of motor fuel as this is already heavily taxed.

This is revolutionary stuff and if you are still reading this here is the payoff. We currently burn 250mton of fuel a year. Doubling the cost could produce revenue of £120b. Just think of the tax changes this could provide: council tax, inheritance tax, corporation tax, probably income tax could all go. All those taxes we complain about so much. As a pensioner would you be pleased to pay twice the fuel bill if you had no council tax? It would certainly be my preference. The beauty of this idea is that whilst an individual cannot determine how much council tax they pay they can do something about the energy they use. Using energy efficient appliances and increasing insulation would be such a positive cost as well as environmental benefit.

What is more we would not need incentives to install renewable energy sources, the obligations and tax breaks in the current system could go.

The levy system could be operated by the existing fuel distribution networks and would be efficient to administer requiring only policing action. The savings in administration costs would be enormous.

Mr Goldsmith:
Air flight should be taxed based on the number of seats, the distance and aircraft type. This roughly aligns with the pollution produced and gives a fair measure of "the polluter pays". Particularly it will penalise those airlines that run old and part empty aircraft.

Mr Goldsmith.
Are you mad? The loss of life due to fire and building collapse e.g. Bradford Stadium, Somerlands, Starlight Club and Ronan Point are now prevented by the Building Regulations. The recent loss of life in Newquay will no doubt turn out to be because the building did not comply with current standards. No, the Building Regulations despite all their fault must stay.

Mr Goldsmith.
In this country, the reason why we have difficulty in creating sufficient homes is purely economic. The fact is that there is too much money available to buy too few houses and the price of houses is increasing because of the shortage.

We have the responsibility of providing housing for all but the number of affordable houses is being reduced by the lack of quality homes driving up prices. The VAT on home improvements is a damper to this erosion and zero rating improvements will make matters worse. However full rate VAT is not an adequate control measure. We need the release of more land and the reduction of planning control to increase the volume of higher quality houses. This will reduce the price pressure at the affordable end of the market.

The Labour policy of linking affordable housing into development is counter productive as it reduces the size of quality home development by the simple fact that it is difficult to sell quality homes within easy reach of affordable homes. I know we are all snobs but it is a fact of life. The unsatisfied demand for higher quality homes is driving up prices elsewhere with the resulting chaotic market with falling housing starts and increasing prices that we now see.

Notting Hill used to be a cheap area.

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