On balance, I agree with the Friends of the Earth verdict on the Tory "Quality of Life" proposals:
This is an enormously important report with many innovative and significant proposals that we wholeheartedly support.The challenge now is to turn this blueprint for a greener future into official party policy.
There's the rub. My head is still spinning on this. I am still not quite sure what the Tories are proposing, particularly after Zak Goldsmith "backpedalled" on some of the main proposals on Conservative Home as highlighted by Chris K. Maybe they aren't proposing anything - it's all just a way of getting on the telly. I don't know. It's a mystery.
This whole thing (I hesitate to use the word "announcement" as it has been more a series of briefings, leaks, press releases and lots of "backpedalling") has been almost impossible to follow. The Tory policy making process, if it can be called that, is an utter shambles.
But anyway, there are some contradictions which are glaring. On Newsnight, only last month, Cameron said he was in favour of airport expansion but now this report proposes to "institute a significant moratorium on new road and airport building." No doubt, Cameron will indicate that it hangs on the interpretation of the the word "significant", but he can't have it both ways.
On the one hand, David Cameron is saying that the money taken on "green taxes" will 'go into a ring-fenced fund to reduce family taxes', and on the other the report itself (22.214.171.124.2) says the proposed green taxes will be "fiscally neutral":
Our policy proposals are fiscally neutral. For example, whilst we recommend levying a high Purchase Tax for the most polluting cars in a class, we argue that all the money received should be returned to tax payers either in the form of a ‘feebate’ to the greenest cars or in other tax reductions.
So which is it to be?
With only a month to go before a possible election, this is a policy mess I would not like to have in our party!
It was entertaining to see John Gummer presenting this report on the telly. My goodness how I missed him! I always feel that he should be doing the voices at a "Punch and Judy" show. As far I am concerned the Tories can give us 24 hour rolling Gummer and Redwood. Most entertaining but unlikely to win them any votes.