Can the man who went down to Bush help sell the Tory air tax?
With the Tories planning to move into potentially dangerous territory with their green tax proposals one of the most intriguing stories this morning is the Sunday Telegraph report that David Cameron has persuaded the former Democrat nominee turned Oscar winner, Al Gore, to visit Britain next week.
For the Tory tax plan which will progressively penalise people the more they fly could be very tricky to sell and is already drawing a lot of Labour fire. The association with Al Gore, who has returned to the limelight with the success of his movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, could make a difference to the way the proposals are perceived and draw some of the inevitable flak.
But it goes further than that – for Cameron being seen alongside such a prominent Democrat could also make the point that the Tories are being taken seriously in Washington as a government in waiting.
Gore, of course, has not ruled himself out of the 2008 White House Race and is currently fourth favourite for the nomination in the betting. Maybe he sees the visit and association as a mechanism to show that he is being treated seriously on the international stage.
The general view is that Gore is biding his time before deciding whether to run. If the Clinton bandwagon starts to slow down and the inexperience of Obama becomes more of an issue then there might be an opportunity. Certainly the movie and the Oscar win have played a big part in changing the way he is perceived.
What is interesting is the extent to which green politics are now dominating the political agenda. Making it more expensive for voters to fly is a big gamble for the Tories but one they probably have had to take.
Where it gets tougher, as Gordon Brown and Labour found in September 2000, is when motoring becomes the target. People might be prepared to pay a bit more for their holidays but penalising their driving is a much harder sell.