Via Iain Dale comes a very interesting blog post by Stuart King, the Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Putney. It is made particularly interesting by the fact that it shows the growing doubts about green taxes that are spreading even amongst supporters of this high-taxing Government, and even amongst people, like Stuart, who describe the environment as their "political passion".
Whilst he remains an enthusiast for green taxes per se, Stuart publicly recognises the fact that green motivation has been widely and repeatedly used as an excuse simply to, as he puts it:
to squeeze even more money out of [people] on the pretense that its for the environment
The blizzard of stealth taxes and charges that have been slapped on people in recent years under the guise of being "green" is both unfair to taxpayers and hugely unpopular. Such is the dishonesty and unpopularity of this approach, argues Mr King, that it is actually harming the Green agenda as a whole.
This is an important development. Until recently, advocates of Green taxes actually seemed to relish the fact that they were causing people discomfort - welcoming the scratching of the hair-shirt as a sign that some kind of deserved penance was being paid. For the most extreme, the more ordinary people's pips squeaked, the better.
Many are now waking up to the fact that not only are these extra taxes economically harmful in these tough times, but they are actually so unpopular and indeed environmentally ineffective that they are doing harm to their own cause. Whilst some people have apparently just got zealously carried away with green taxation, many others in Westminster have jumped on the green bandwagon in order to use it as an excuse to revenue raise for the Treasury. It is that latter practice in particular that Stuart King has identified, and which is picked out clearly by our opinion polling on the subject as being unpopular and resented.
The other problem the green tax lobby have got is that whilst they point avidly to Stern, the IPCC and others when it suits them, they try to conveniently ignore the fact that even according to those same sources, we pay too much in green taxes already. Their own favourite sources put specific figures on the social and environmental cost of CO2 emissions, but the amount we currently pay far exceeds those costs. In short, their is no case for further green taxes, and any extra charges brought in should be matched by reductions in fuel duty and/or VED for a start.
Public opposition to stealth taxes dressed up in green clothes has been growing hugely in recent months, and the pressure being brought to bear will hopefully see a lot more people like Mr King change to his tack. As he says, councils and government should be willing to use the carrot of tax cuts and rebates if they want to change behaviour - the stick of taxes is too often unfair, unpopular and in practice abused as a way to make money.