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Jute bags, green taxes, and Liberal Democrats

Menzies CampbellAt this year’s Liberal Democrat conference, delegates have been provided with environmentally friendly jute conference bags. They will be expected to use them again next year, rather than being issued with new ones. But reflecting a theme at this year’s conference, the bag scheme has something of a hole. If the Lib Dems are serious about increasing their popularity, surely lots of new people will be at conference next year – without this year’s jute bag. It’s an idea that looks good in principle, but flaws are found with barely five seconds of armchair thought.

In this way, it’s quite similar to “green taxes”, which the Liberal Democrats have voted in favour of today. The first big test of Sir Campbell’s leadership may have been passed with flying colours, but the first big test of logic is failed. Green taxes place the tax burden on polluting activities to discourage them. Yet the moment Green Taxes work, they fail: That is, the moment people are discouraged from polluting activities, there is no tax revenue for public services.

So, effectively, the Green Taxes either have to be stupidly low, so they don’t discourage people, or stupidly high, so that a few pay a lot for a little pollution – which hardly fairly distributes the tax burden, since those who can’t switch to expensive renewable energy sources (the lower socioeconomic classes) pay more. It’s easy for CEO to buy a new non-polluting car, it’s harder for Unemployed Joe who’s driven the same old polluting banger for the last twenty-five years. If anything, it’s the reverse of a LibDem policy.

I was going to write about Charles Kennedy at this point, but I’ve just fallen off my chair with shock. Tony Blair acutally features on the Labour homepage. Admittedly, he’s tiny (much smaller than “Dave the Chameleon”), but it’s a step forward. I think this might be the first time since before the last election. Sadly, nothing to rival the LibDems’ MingCast, but I can dream.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

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