This morning’s newspapers have a number of reports on ‘Tory plans’ to tax supermarket shopping. The plans are, in fact, only proposals from the Gummer-Goldsmith Quality of Life policy group but they have produced upset at The Sun (see clipping on the right).
Richard Littlejohn, in the Daily Mail, also rails against the Conservative plans in his column:
"People are aware of their responsibilities to the planet, and most try to conserve energy and recycle as much as possible. But they resent lectures about individual behaviour from Old Etonian politicians. An extra two grand on a Mondeo may not matter to a multi-millionaire like Goldsmith, but it’s a huge chunk of change from the average family budget. And whatever CMD [Call Me Dave] may think, regardless of what people tell pollsters, no one will vote for higher taxes and higher prices. They also resent being expected to pay more, on top of their council tax, for less frequent rubbish collections. The Government already raises the thick end of £30 billion a year through "green" taxes – virtually none of which gets spent improving the environment."
Expect much, much more of the same if Gummer-Goldsmith recommends significant increases in taxation of air travel and cars later this week. In order to offset the likely political damage the Tory leadership needs to move quickly. It will be helpful if George Osborne immediately announces which tax cuts will be enacted by a Conservative government – afforded by the extra green taxation that David Cameron promised yesterday.
The Guardian notes that John Gummer’s policy group believes that local authorities should have the power to levy fees on supermarket car parks that bring them into line with town centre rates of charging. The revenues raised, suggests Mr Gummer, would fund improvements in public transport. Mr Cameron has already ruled this out – saying that all new environment taxes will pay for cuts in family and business taxation. The Guardian also says that the group will recommend a confidential hotline through which farmers will be able to ‘shop’ supermarkets that treat them unfairly. It quotes a recent poll showed that found that 71% of consumers worried that supermarkets were too powerful.
Zac Goldsmith has fought a campaign against the building of a new Sainsbury’s supermarket in Barnes – the centre of the Richmond Park constituency which he hopes to represent after the next General Election.
Related link: The six political dangers of Gummer-Goldsmith