Why don't the Tories just shut up about the environment? Probably because it was only thing that they haven't been absolutely panned for talking about so far. They have been falling apart at the mere suggestion of education and Europe is traditionally a sore spot for them; they have given health a shot but it didn't really make any difference. They tried taxation but then realised they didn't actually have a policy and as far as I can tell they don't have an energy or transport policy either. So back to green politics it is. Unfortunately, they are combining green politics with taxation, transport, industry and just about anything else they have failed on - and it is coming out like a load of old nonsense.
John Gummer - he of the mad cow burger - and Zac Goldsmith are due to publish a report on the environment next month and if any of the commentary and leaks that are preceding it so far are true, talk of the Tories turning the corner in the polls may well be premature. Take, for example, Gummer's brilliant idea to cap all airport expansion. What a goon. Why not just shut up shop in Britain altogether - we might as well because you can bet that businesses will be over the other side of the channel faster than a crash on the London Stock Exchange.
Next on the list of lunatic ideas is the brilliant idea to add VAT on domestic flights (or ban them altogether) to encourage people to use the trains. Now, not only is this a mad cap idea in itself, but I also know that this country's rail infrastructure is not up to it by any stretch of the imagination. This has nothing to do with CO2 emissions; it is about revenue for government. One of the more sensible suggestions is that all flights being subject to a separate per-flight tax based on the amount of CO2 generated, replacing the air passenger duty and shifting the burden from passengers to airlines. This is assuming that the government can put a value on CO2 for all modes of transport and areas of industry – which I’m sure they won’t, meaning that my car CO2 emissions are far more expensive than my plane CO2 emissions. The group has wisely rejected the ridiculous proposal by David Cameron to restrict people to one return short-haul flight per year at a standard rate of tax and charge more for subsequent aircraft trips.
Shelving plans for airport expansion will be economic and electoral suicide. At least they aren't planning on making Britain carbon neutral by 2050 or banning the petrol engine car by the same date - you'd have to be mad to suggest that one...