Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the greenest of them all?
It's not every day that an opposition leader who's ahead in the polls announces "Look, I'm going to put taxes up and I want to make it more expensive to have holidays and fun at the weekends". That, though, is what David Cameron is doing with his announcement that he wants to make flying more expensive. The question then is why?
One part of the answer is that he is sincere in his concerns about climate change and knows that aviation, though by no means the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, is the fastest growing. (See my previous blog entry and listen to the Decision Time programme here for the arguments on taxing aviation.)
It's important to understand the other parts of the answer too. Having promised not to cut taxation overall the Tories need to raise some taxes to cut others. Green taxes go up so "family taxes" can come down or, as George Osborne likes to put it "pay as you burn not as you earn". They are determined too to start answering the "Where's the beef?" question by coming up with some croncrete(ish) policies.
Most critical of all though to the timing of this announcement is to convince the electorate that Brown is not, and never will be, green. His big speech on the environment is today. The Climate Change Bill is unveiled tomorrow. The Budget - which will be viewed in part through green spectacles - is next week.
So, the political gains of all of this are clear. The pain should be evident too. A growing rump of David Cameron's party - led by Margaret Thatcher's former chancellor Nigel Lawson - see climate change as the latest excuse to raise your taxes, burden business with regulation and increase the power of the government. They are fighting back.
Mr Cameron may shrug off the apparent scepticism of the likes of his shadow defence spokesman Liam Fox and the head of his economic competitiveness group John Redwood. He should feel less relaxed though about the fact he's being praised this morning in the editorials of the Guardian and the Independent and criticised by the Sun, Mail, Telegraph and Times.
Just as radical euro-scepticism is declining as a problem for the Tories could the green sceptics be on the rise?