At my local train station, the normally chirpy lady behind the glass booth in the ticket office looked sad and forlorn. Her grandmother in Trinidad had died and she couldn't afford the fares to attend the funeral.Welcome to NuLabour’s Britain, love…
Next year, though, things will get even tougher for people like her, when the departure tax for flights to the Caribbean will shoot up by almost 100%. When I told her this, she replied angrily: "Pretty soon you're going to have to pay to breathe in this country, it's just not fair."
Under the new Air Passenger Duty (APD) scheme, which began life as a green measure aimed at reducing aviation emissions, the tax will be calculated according to the distance in miles from London to the capital city of the destination country. This all sounds fine in theory, but the system places the Caribbean in a more expensive band than the US. Not only will this make the tax on a flight to the Caribbean higher than for a flight to southern Florida – both roughly equidistant from London – but it will also result in travellers on a flight to Hawaii, some 7,200 miles from London, paying less than those going to the Caribbean, 4,000 miles away. How is this in the interest of reducing emissions?None of it is in the interests of reducing emissions.
It’s in the interests of seeming ‘green’, and increasing stealth taxes, and ensuring that enough of the hoi-polloi are priced out of the market to ensure a comfortable flight for the rich, and the people not using their own money to pay for flights – ministers, journalists, heads of charities, etc.
Our new ruling class, in other words.
Still, good luck with the ‘Is it ‘cos we is black?’ tactic:
The duty will hit British Caribbean families hard. Many of those who migrated to Britain in the 1950s and 60s are reaching their twilight years and they and their children are travelling back to their homelands to retire or for christenings, weddings and family funerals.Perhaps a complaint to the Equality Commission is in order, Floella?
Not surprisingly, Britain's Caribbean community is deeply concerned about the livelihoods of their friends and families. They are angry at the injustice of the system, angry about the possibility that from November they will find it much harder to visit their loved ones or conduct business in the region, and very concerned that the Caribbean will be at a competitive disadvantage to neighbouring destinations in the US.So vote! And don’t vote Green, or anyone else in hock to the ‘man made global warming’ theory.
Sadly, that doesn’t leave you with many options come election day…
Treasury minister Sarah McCarthy Fry defended the proposal, but agreed to look further at the US v Caribbean disparity. This is encouraging, but the pressure needs to be kept up for the sake of my friendly ticket lady and thousands like her.Actually, it needs to be kept up for the sake of everybody, not just ‘your friendly ticket lady’.
Because these people don’t give up. Ever. Not until we are all, as your ticket lady put it, ‘paying to breathe’…