Daily Archives: 3 October 2006

Another Labour Loophole

I’m not sure the government have thought this through properly.

Surely, we are bound to see hundreds of rich millionaires sign up to fight in the worst warzones on Earth so they can enjoy tax exempt status?

I mean seriously, would you want to see people such as Philip Green and Richard Branson being shot at and fighting for their lives 24/7 in the depths of Afghanistan?

Actually, come to think of it, maybe it isn’t such a bad idea.

YouGot to pay me more

I’ve just done another one of those interminable YouGov consumer surveys.

The thing about YouGov is they don’t appear to have any quality control over their surveys. The reason why I take part in political surveys is that I’m interested in the result; I have no such stake in a survey about London restaurants or utility bills. Yet all too often, the surveys asked for the latter are insanely complicated and endlessly repetitive, to the point that about halfway in, you start to lose the will to live. More precisely, I have to admit, I simply start making random replies in order to get through as quickly as possible in order to get my 50p. The same applies to those BrandIndex surveys, only more so.

I can’t possibly be the only one. If I were YouGov, or one of the companies that commissions such surveys, I’d be really worried about this: are they really getting reliable data? A bit of quality control I suspect would work wonders. How about it guys?

Webcameron. And on.

The Webcameron spoofs seems to be multiplying, even if you ignore webcameron.info.

There is Stephen Tall’s provocative striptease (surely a Michael Kamen-style music career is now in the offing?), and Will Howell’s cheeky little number. And now, it would appear, Tom Watson has got in on the act and interestingly he doesn’t simply mock Cameron’s style, but actually engages in the “clean politics” debate.

While it’s fair to say that I certainly have my differences with Mr Watson, I agree with about 80% of what he says here. He does seem to be having his cake and eating it (i.e. a £15 million cap on spending is hardly a cap at all, and he skillfully evades the issue of individual donations altogether), but it’s good to see that Cameron appears to have provoked more of a debate on this issue, which can only be a good thing.

Emissions from BAA

According to the Guardian, the BAA have been denouncing aviation taxes at Tory Party conference in favour of emissions trading.

Sounds fair enough – I think emissions trading is a good idea as well (indeed, the Lib Dems have been flying that particular flag long before it was fashionable). But I can’t help but get the feeling they are actually trying to confuse the debate rather than play a constructive part in it.

Firstly, bringing aviation into emissions trading will take years. Aviation is specifically excluded under the Kyoto protocol and numerous treaties over the years have made taxing aviation fuel illegal since the twenties(?). So, what BAA are actually saying is that we shouldn’t do anything for a decade (and that’s assuming an international agreement can be made).

Secondly, Lib Dem policy is for an Aircraft Tax to replace Air Passenger Duty. Instead of charging each passenger £X (which budget airlines always conveniently remove when mentioning their cheap fares), the whole aircraft is levied a charge which then will be distributed for each passenger. This gives the airline an incentive to fill the plane as much as possible and, subsequently, pass the cost onto the passenger as little as possible. It is the current system that penalises passengers.

Thirdly, under the current system, big business has been able to force the government to set as high a carbon emissions target as they can possibly get away with. I can’t help but feel that was at the back of Roger Wiltshire’s mind when he made these proposals.

What this all adds up to me is a smokescreen, an opportunity for BAA to sound green while being anything but. We could introduce an aircraft tax tomorrow; it will be many years before aviation can be brought into emissions trading and that scheme is in need of being toughened up. Aircraft taxes don’t price passengers out; the status quo passenger levy does. BAA must know all this, so the question is, why do they turn up to Tory Conferences and say the opposite?