All the main parties are now in favour of “green taxes” to reduce carbon emissions. Environment secretary David Miliband, for example, wants levies on air flights and more tax on some cars.
Such measures give the appearance of change while doing very little. The oil price has soared, but this has done little to curb the growth in car use and air transport because many people see no alternative - or are too rich to care.
Green taxes can end up hitting the poor and spreading the idea that measures to combat climate change are just a ruse to raise cash.
We are not “all in the same boat”. Capitalism has created these problems but will not supply the solutions.
Socialist Worker would support measures which target pollution by big business, and would shed no tears if owners of grossly excessive vehicles which pump out fumes faced increased taxes. But in truth even these measures would be insufficient and are unlikely to be applied rigorously.
This is a global problem where the fastest and greatest suffering will take place in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It requires democratic planning and social control of production to solve it. Putting £5 on an Easyjet fight is a pathetic sop.
Dates with destiny
There are two crucial dates in November for every Socialist Worker reader. On Saturday 11 November there is the Organising for Fighting Unions conference, initiated by Respect. A week later there is the People’s Assembly on Islamophobia and the War on Terror, called by the Stop the War Coalition.
As the US and British occupation of Iraq sinks deeper into disaster and yet another top British general speaks out, describing Britain’s policy in Afghanistan as “cuckoo”, it is vital to link this government’s campaign to scapegoat Muslims with their growing isolation over the US-British imperial venture.
The success of the Stop the War Coalition can inspire the revitalising of our unions. To fight the neoliberal assault, our resistance in the workplace must match the energy and vivacity of the anti-war movement.
That’s why these two dates are so crucial.
The British tax lawyer David Mills, the estranged husband of government minister Tessa Jowell, is to stand trial charged with corruption alongside ex-Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
But the claims of corruption are much closer to New Labour than the Italian courts. An ongoing police inquiry was launched after it was revealed four businessmen who loaned Labour millions had been nominated for peerages. This has involved the arrest of three people and the questioning of 50.
All the major parties have similarly dodgy fundraising methods. The real scandal is that by buying access to politicians, the wealthy are able to get tickets to the sell?off of our public services.
Neoliberalism makes the power of money a fetish or, as Al Capone put it, capitalism is the “legitimate racket of the ruling class”. New Labour is as addicted to neoliberalism as Capone’s clients were to moonshine.