The Gummer-Goldsmith report has, as ConservativeHome feared, done the party a lot of damage. It risks making us look like a high-tax party out of touch with ordinary families. And for what benefit? Nothing Britain does on its own will make a difference to climate change. As the Copenhagen Consensus powerfully argues: there are many more sensible priorities for forward-thinking nations.
This is what George Pascoe-Watson, the Political Editor of The Sun, writes about yesterday’s ‘Blueprint for a Green Economy’:
"The Tories are meant to be targeting Britain’s hard-working families with tax CUTS, not tax RISES. But Goldsmith’s wish list of green policies would make life hell for most Sun readers."
The Sun Says column warns Mr Cameron that he is like an endangered polar bear; walking on thin ice. He could "disappear without trace" at the next General election and asks:
"Why should we wear hair shirts when China builds two new coal-fired power stations a week and Russian rivers are so polluted they catch fire?"
The best line comes from the Express’ leader column (not online): "Zac Goldsmith and John Gummer make Marie Antoinette appear positively in touch with common people." It continues:
"Millions of hard-pressed British people know that a higher income would improve their lives. Any party that claims the opposite, let alone one dominated by those born into wealth, is doomed to perpetual opposition."
The Mail does not repeat its ‘Does Cameron understand ordinary people?’ attack of yesterday but focuses on the Gummer-Goldsmith plans to make home improvement harder:
"Families would be forced to turn their houses green before being given permission to carry out loft conversions or conservatory extensions under plans published by the Tories yesterday. Householders would have to follow in the footsteps of David Cameron by fitting energy-saving light bulbs, solar panels and possibly even a wind turbine on the roof if they wanted to make home improvements."
Hardly a vote winner.
The Telegraph is equally unimpressed. This is what its leader-writers say:
"The report’s authors have embraced the profoundly un-Conservative notion that people can be taxed into living their lives differently. It is one thing to try to incentivise people to become "greener", quite another to try to bully them into submission through new taxes. While we recognise that it would be the ambition of a Tory government, over the course of an economic cycle, to reduce taxation, the report recommends swingeing environmental taxes on new cars, higher vehicle excise duties and VAT on domestic flights. Mr Cameron promised yesterday that all environmental tax revenues will be ring-fenced in a Family Fund that will be used "to reduce family taxes". It may be the fault of Labour that promises made by political leaders have come to be regarded as less than iron cast, but we doubt this assurance will reassure voters. These aggressive tax proposals are unachievable in a literal sense, for any party espousing them would have little hope of winning power (a truth already grasped by Gordon Brown)."
The Independent welcomes the report, of course, and warns him that his credibility will be finished if he does not back its recommendations. The Guardian is also positive but in remarks certain to alarm Conservatives it concludes that it is "far more radical on environmental policy than anything produced by Labour’s high command".
Anyway, it’s time to move on. I don’t always agree with Iain Dale’s Telegraph columns. They’re very panglossian about the weaknesses of Conservative strategy but he’s on the money today. Brown doesn’t just want to beat the Conservative Party. He wants to destroy the Conservative Party. That’s more obvious today than it was yesterday. The Thatcher-Brown meeting – strongly attacked by Rob Wilson MP in a controversial Platform piece – proved that conclusively. ConservativeHome (belatedly) launches its ‘wrongman’ website on Monday. It’s not going to have much content on day one but – with your help – we can build it up into a creative centre for holding Brown accountable for his record and weaknesses.