Azara Blog: Tories present their "quality of life" report

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Date published: 2007/09/13

The BBC says:

Tax rises for UK short-haul flights and for "gas-guzzling" cars are needed to combat climate change, a Conservative policy review group has said.

The Quality of Life Group said it was "illogical" cars and trains were taxed more than flights, adding the UK should be a "world leader on green growth".

It wants to suspend airport expansion and increase investment in railways.

If Cameron accepts these proposals, then the Tories, like the Lib Dems, will have declared war on the working class. There is of course plenty wrong with the current tax policy on flights. Air passenger duty is completely unrelated to carbon emissions. The only sensible policy is to tax airplane fuel. Instead the Tories, like the Lib Dems before them, are proposing not very sensible half measures, like VAT on flights inside Britain.

And you have to laugh at the Tories claiming it is "illogical" that "cars and trains were taxed more than flights". First of all, trains are not taxed more than flights. Rail passengers receive a whacking great subsidy from the government year on year, so in fact rail passengers pay a negative tax. (And the Tories, and the Lib Dems, want to increase this subsidy, that is what they mean by "increased investment".) In contrast, the tax rate on short haul flights can easily be 50%, given the stupidity of air passenger duty.

Of course the Tories are correct that cars are taxed at more than flights. Cars are taxed at a higher rate than just about anything. Fuel duty is around a 300% tax. This is way above what a carbon tax should be. And the last Tory government were the ones who made this happen (and Labour followed on for a few years until the fuel protests). And of course the Tories now want to hammer car drivers even more. So it is a bit rich them complaining that car tax is higher than airplane tax.

The people who wrote this report are far, far richer than the average UK citizen. They write: "If society at large can shift its thinking away from “what can I buy?” to “what do I want from life?” or “what needs do I have?” then perhaps we can decouple economic growth from resource input." Only a rich person would write such words. They have everything in life. And how dare the peasants dare to aspire to the same lifestyle. The authors of this report are part of the problem, they are not part of the solution. We do not need obnoxious and patronising sermons from them.

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