Polly Pot (sans vegetables on this occasion) appears to be having multiple orgasms over David Milliband’s half-arsed proposals for personal carbon quotas…
But Miliband’s electric radicalism comes in his plan for personal carbon allowances. Here is where social justice meets green politics for the first time. Give every citizen the same quota of energy and let them buy and sell it on the open market. The half of the population who don’t fly will make money from selling their quota to the half who do. Drive a gas-guzzling 4×4 and you will have to buy a quota from the third of the population with no access to a car. Who could complain about such transparent fairness? It is relatively easy to do: swiping a quota card to pay gas and electricity bills or buying petrol is a simpler transaction than Tesco’s complex information on their loyalty card. In wartime, ration books were produced quickly for all, covering almost everything bought and sold, involving every little corner shop. (Could paper ration books be easier than trying to computerise it all?) Why is this a quintessentially Labour policy that the Tories would never copy? Because it in effect redistributes money from the rich to the poor, from the frequent flyers to never-flyers, with a parallel currency.
Me? I’ve got the odd question or two to ask as well?
Given that a sizeable old proportion of those who would be left with saleable carbon rations under this hare-brained scheme are those who are elderly (and receiving a state pension), on welfare benefits, or on low incomes (and receiving tax credits) and also the kind of people who don’t have a bank account, or have only a basic one, don’t use credit cards, maybe only use a debit card to get cash out of a ‘hole-in-the-wall’, and pay for the gas and electricity using a token meter, perhaps Polly might venture a few answers to the following practical questions.
Where are these people going to go to sell the spare ‘carbon credits’? Not the Post Office, certainly - not after yesterday.
Who will operate and regulate the market?
Will there be commission to be paid on the sale of these credits, and if so, by whom - they buyer, the seller or both? After all, won’t the traders in the market (i.e. the middle men) be expecting to make a little profit themselves?
Will the income from the sale of these credits affect the seller’s entitlement to the benefits they receive?
Will the proceeds of selling carbon credits be classed as taxable income?
(If I got those last two questions right, then I should see the magic words ‘marginal tax rates’ pop up in the comments at some point)
Isn’t this all just another example of a piece of over-complex, unworkable middle-class twattery, that sounds wonderful if you live in Islington but will mean fuck all to anyone living on a council estate in Gateshead and, like the fuck-ups over tax credits, simply add to the general misery of people who’re already struggling to make ends meet?
Is there not something just plain demeaning about the very idea of issuing people with fucking paper ration books?
Has your column disappeared so far up its own arse that you can now easily give your own kidneys a bit of nibble without stretching?
And have you just not thought this through, as usual?