Daily Archives: 31 August 2006

Zachariah has a George Bush Snr moment

The Times, 18 February 2006:

Taxes aren’t how Tories will save the world’

A CONSERVATIVE government would not introduce a “green” tax, according to the deputy chairman of the party’s commission on the environment.

Zac Goldsmith, the son of the late Sir James Goldsmith and Editor of Ecologist magazine, who was appointed by David Cameron after he became leader, said that good environmental policy was not about raising taxes or increasing regulations but “shifting emphasis”. “Most environmentalists would come out with a huge increase in taxes,” he added. “I don’t agree. The Conservative Party doesn’t like forcing people to do anything and I don ’t think we have to — most of the obstacles are from bad governance.”

The best way to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and decrease greenhouse gas emissions was to make people aware of the importance of buying local food and introducing energy-efficiency savings in the home.

The Guardian, 31 August 2006:

And, as George Osborne will point out in Japan, we will need to make more use of eco taxes. “We should move some of the burden of taxation away from income and capital, and towards taxes on environmentally damaging behaviour. Instead of a tax system that penalises hard work and enterprise, we need to move towards more effective and fair taxes on pollution.”

This, of course, is a quote from Boy George, who last month described the Lib Dem proposal for a tax shift as a panic measure written on the back of an envelope.

So what’s changed? Why has Zac “Read my lips: no green taxes” Goldsmith and his chums done such a vaulting U-Turn? Could it possibly have something to do with the new Lib Dem policies threatening to strip them of the nice green sheen they have been carefully cultivating for the past few months?

Symbols and reality

Some more logical gymnastics from Evan Harris:

Evan Harris, the party’s science spokesman, admitted that the proposed package would be more progressive but said he was worried that ditching the 50p rate was a “symbolic” move that would send the wrong signal to voters.

In other words, we shouldn’t bother striving to do what we believe to be right, but what we believe to be popular.

The real problem with Harris’ rebellion is it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. By spending a large portion of Conference week denouncing our policy he threatens to drown out those who would rather explain it. He effectively hands a stick to our opponents to beat us with.

Evan Harris prides himself as a secularist and rationalist, yet he’s going to go to Brighton next month calling us to vote for the equivalent of fairies at the bottom of our garden.

Don’t get me wrong, I have certain misgivings about our proposed new taxation policy – I may even get around to submitting an amendment of my own – but what objections I have are about how the policy will work in reality, not what “messages” it might send out.