Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Byers Aims His Pea Shooter at Brown


The Sunday papers were full of Stephen Byers wanting to bury Inheritance Tax - presumably in the same way that his spin doctor once tried to bury bad news. I have 'history' on this in that I spoke out in favour of ditching Inheritance Tax at the Tory Party Conference in 2004. To me the argument is simple. It's a tax on death. It's taxing you on money you have already been taxed on. It's blatantly unfair and if as a Conservative you believe in cascading wealth down the generations you cannot possibly be in favour of retaining Inheritance Tax. It was one tax reform the Thatcher government should have tackled but didn't. Actually, there were others too, but let's not get sidetracked. I wanted a commitment in the 2005 Conservative Manifesto if not to abolish it outright, to phase it out.

Now if I thought Stephen Byers really wanted to abolish Inheritance Tax, really felt it in his gut, then I would applaud him. But his move is a cynical one. It's to fire yet another shot across the bows of Gordon Brown. Byers is an ueber-Blairite - a so-called 'outrider', whatever that means. His mission is to make it as difficult as possible for Brown to succeed in his quest to succeed Blair. But who's he acting for? Milburn or Reid? I frankly have no idea, but I suspect it will become clear over the coming weeks. But just as interesting, who else will come out of the woodwork to launch similar grenades into the Brownite bunker?

44 comments:

Graham E said...

Is this the caption competition?
I'll go first then with 'Who's the daddy?'

strapworld said...

Iain,

I think Blair will fire the next salvo. He will blame Brown for the failures of the NHS and evrything else by not ensuring that the monies reached the shop floor!

He will join forces with the conservatives in painting Brown as an incompetent, and get away with it as only Blair appears to do!

It will then leave it open for Blair to appoint his favourite (at that time) as the Deputy Prime Minister, having persuaded Prescott to become Lord Prescott of
Thorpe Park.

Vienna Woods said...

Ian wrote,

"Byers is an ueber-Blairite - a so-called 'outrider'"
-----
There's a cryptic clue in that line!
For "a so" read "asshole"

UK Daily Pundit said...

An outrider is similar to a joyrider but differs from a Knightrider.

Alan Milburn could be described as a joyrider, whereas Ron Davies could be described as a Knightrider.

Don't ask me about the sidewinder, you wouldn't want to know.

devilsadvocate said...

I'm playing devils advocate here, but as a Conservative, don't you also believe in equality of opportunity? One can't choose one's parents. What happens if it becomes impossible for children from less well off backgrounds to compete on an equal footing in life, especially in areas such as childhood health and education just because their parents were hardworking/lazy/lucky/unlucky/good/bad at managing money?

leon said...

Good question, going by the following there is an effort to undermine Brown afoot:http://www.epolitix.com/EN/News/200608/297fd6b2-7262-4ed8-a024-ce91cc92e4c3.htm

And this suggests a retaliation:

http://www.epolitix.com/EN/News/200608/e11294af-2f1e-427d-bc34-b95b16f83dfd.htm

Marco said...

Woo cares why he said it, it is at least in the public consciousness as an idea now.

This proposal had to come from someone like Byers, in the belly of the tax-raising beast because the current Tory leadership are scared stiff of committing to anything- even now it's been proposed to near universal approval, Osborne won't agree!

If Labour civil war will continue to result in good ideas being put into the press then we have another good reason to egg them on.

Cranmer said...

if not to abolish it outright, to faze it out.

Faze? 'Faze', Mr Dale? What is the derivation of this word? Ha! You mean 'phase'?!

To 'faze' is to disconcert, unnerve. One cannot do that to a tax, unless, of course, the tax is a sentient entity. His Grace knows of none.

But where, pray, does the Exchequer recoup the billions lost through the abolition of this 'death' tax? Please do not say 'efficiency savings'. They never seem to transpire.

Average guy on the street said...

Good post.

I completely agree that inheritance tax should be abolished simply because it is a tax on death and if you have been paying taxes throughout your life then your children should not be made to pay any taxes on your death.

Brynley said...

Shallow Stephen makes Brown look the redistributionist, which will do him no harm with his natural supporters.

hatfield girl said...

Cranmer said 'But where, pray, does the Exchequer recoup the billions lost through the abolition of this 'death' tax?'
Print more money. It's time for a good bout of inflation; makes everytone so much better off, unless they're on the breadline but then they won't be voting conservative will they?

The Voice of Reason said...

Did it cross your minds that core labour voters up north rarely pay this tax so if Gordon says "no the rich can afford it." It'll make him popular.

At the same time George will come under pressure to promise to abolish it "Why even some Labour MPs are demanding it!"

If George does promise so Gordon will say "Cameron will have to close 57 Maternity Units to pay for it"

Headlines in The Sun CAMERON TO CLOSE 100 MATERNITY UNITS TO PAY FOR THE RICH

Has anyone else noticed how many Labour targets are to be met by 2012?

Not much chance of Labour being around to catch the flack from those failures.

Adrian Yalland said...

If we are on the subject of things I would like to see in the next Tory manifesto, can I throw the following into the discussion:

1. The abolition of inheritance tax (for the same reasons that Iain gave)
2. The rights for a parental ballot on creating MORE grammar schools where demand exceeds supply
3. A bill which says that the UK will unilaterally and immediately raise the percentage of GDP it donates to overseas development to 1%, with no strings attached to trade deals
4. A raft of measures which will deal with family breakdown, poverty, poor education performance and social issues caused by absent fathers who don’t take their responsibilities to their children seriously enough!
5. Compulsory Grant Maintained Status (or independent Trust status) for all schools
6. Taking those on state benefits out of paying income tax completely
7. Increase the role of the voluntary sector through supporting voluntary bodies with Government money (organisations such as hospices for example, where people go to die with dignity but receive not a jot from Gordon Brown!)
8. An act to change the way money raised from the lottery is used – not to subsidise government spending, and not on lunatic PC projects!
9. A review of all the new legislation and laws which have deluged down upon us over the past 30 years – and a list of the ones which can be done away with. Less law is better law!
10. A Royal Commission on how the Government taxes and spends, with a view to considering introducing tax reforms, flat taxes and local income tax and scrapping the council tax
11. A Royal Commission into the future of the NHS, in particular how healthcare is funded, and the future role of the private sector
12. A Royal Commission on future pension provision, considering the abolition of National Insurance and its replacement with something which will actually do the trick, compulsory pension contributions, and the need for people to save more and spend less
13. A Royal Commission on the Constitution, looking at some for of codified constitution which gives us back our (now much eroded) liberties, and offers us bills of rights etc against Government power. Something to roll back the damage done to the constitution since 1997 and ensure that civil liberties can not be messed around with again
14. Abolishing the hunting ban (not because I hunt – I don’t, it’s just a spiteful piece of legislation)
15. Restricting the ability of Scottish MPs to vote on English & Welsh matters
16. Scrapping regional assemblies
17. Somehow increase in the level of state pension paid to those in obvious poverty, but without forcing them to fill in endless forms and go ‘cap in hand’ to the state for what is rightfully theirs!
18. Reduction on wine duty!
19. Measures which really make society wise up to the dangers of alcohol abuse, binge drinking and booze fuelled yobbish behaviour (take every binge drinker to a post mortem of someone who has died after drinking too much – that might wake them up)
20. And finally – a bill to reform our relationship with the EU, whereby we withdraw in a friendly manner, and renegotiate a Norwegian style ‘trade only’ agreement which protects our and the EU’s trading interests, but gives us back control of our laws, borders and fishing grounds!!!!

malcolm said...

Cranmer, perhaps Iain said 'faze' as in 'fazer' from Star Trek.Fazers as I'm sure you'll remember destroyed everything so completely they diappeared from view.Good thing for IHT if you ask me..
Beam me up Scotty.

strapworld said...

My accountant advises me that to avoid the tax on death as some are graphically putting it, I should not die.

I am, therefore, taking his advice

alfie said...

God - Steven Byers.... as sweaty as Uriah Heep in a sauna. I really do not like this man, no scruples, no ethics, no talent, no idea. He reminds me of the sly kid in school.... you know, the little creep who everyone hated as he brown nosed his way into teacher's affections.

I am just amazed he didn't get deselected before the last election as a result of his appalling behaviour. But I tell you what, it's a sad day for British politics - because presumably this means he's on a promise from his mystery sponsor. And if this guy ('family man Milburn' or 'Rabid Reid') actually wins the next leadership contest then presumably Byers' 'loyalty' will be rewarded in some way..... Cabinet post - or plum job in Europe?

Either way, the prospect is just awful.

Adrian Yalland said...

The point here is this:

Work hard, save, contribute to - but be independent of - the state all your life, then when old and infirm, cash-in your kids inheritence and live on that instead. And then, what little is left over after your death can be given to those who need it most - the Government!

Beachhutman said...

This was on the JV show on Radio 2 recently, that well known haunt of hangers and floggers, with a seasoning of greens and bunny huggers.

An old fashioned "Lay-ber vo'tah" called in. His proposition was basically "Fucking toffs. Why the fuck should THEY have any money to pass on to THEIR kids when I barely have enough cash out of me benefit for the beer and fags ? And they live in these bloody posh houses when I have to put up with spending my life in this almost free council house"

Now, who said Brown was closer to "old labour"?

Anonymous said...

Byers is a well known git, and this is in line with his statements. As a soft lefty I cannot understand the sort of society Iain and Byers are advocating. Essentially what we are talking about here is the creation of a new aristocracy, complete with massive landholdings, a class of idle trustfunders owning virtually all the capital, land and property and the rest of us in future generations essentially toiling as their (badly paid) serfs. Presumably history will then run full circle and we will have another wave of revolutions. Why on earth do neocons advocate this guff? The line about being taxed on money you've already been taxed on is true of hard working middle class families, but it's not true of the wealthy, who generally are skilled at avoiding tax during life. Zero tax rates on capital essentially make the already-rich through tax evasion even richer. They remove incentive on the children of wealthy families to work, and cause the class of inheritors to support corrupt political systems (such as - increasingly - ours) that defend large-scale property owners rights. The result can easily be inspected anywhere in the third world zones of Latin America, where the staggeringly wealthy live alongside desperate poverty and oppression of the favelas. Thank you Iain for advocating this system with the usual lies, trying to rope in the middle class to defend a policy that only really favours the idle rich.

Anonymous said...

Adrian Yelland - the money is not "given to the government" - it goes into general taxation which is then spent on public services like the military, schools, the NHS, roads, etc. Are you saying these things should not be provided, or just that someone else should pay for them? Presumably some of the more extreme neocons on these pages would for example advocate a military that is sold at the point of source? A return to our sea captains earning their salaries by stealing foreign ships? Hurrah for the good old days!

Anonymous said...

so if you abolish inheritance tax it leaves a three billion shortfall which has to come from somewhere.

Why? Why doesn't the Government simply decide to spend/waste less of our money, so the books balance?

Surely that's what a Conservative government would do if elected - isn't it? Hello, George? Hello, Dave?

javelin said...

I see Inheritence Tax supporters are calling it a nativist tax on Labour Home.

Andrew Woodman said...

I'm surprised you haven't mentioned your plug by Mr Blunkett is his Sun column today Iain (I found it on the train and didn't buy it may I add)

Verity said...

anonymous 8:05 Certainly, the taxpayer should be funding our national defence. I can even see a case for schools. But roads? Why?

The NHS? Why should it not be funded by the people who use it?

gradgrind said...

ID:

> To me the argument is simple.
> It's a tax on death.

Hence the term "Death Duties"? How effective these new euphemisms are in masking the reality! Ministry of Defence my arse!

Peter Hitchens said...

anon 7;41
shut up and make sure my boots are polished in the morning. And if I find you on the front stairs again you are in for a thrashing.

Fruning Graplecard said...

Iain: "It's taxing you on money you have already been taxed on"

So is VAT and Council Tax. Does that stop 'em? Are they bovvered? They would tax farts if they could quantify them.

Let's face it, it's not the uber (is it "uber" or "ueber"?) rich that we worry about, it is the nicely comfortable who are yet again the target.

BTW

Until recently there was a nice little perk that NHS employees could take advantage of; that was the purchase of personal computers out of gross income, at source. Ol' Greasy Head stopped that one, didn't he? So not only do most NHS employees work in shitey new buildings with no windows and no air conditioning due to PFI, and due to effing PFI they now have to PAY for the priveledge of parking (because they cannot afford housing nearby) at their place of work, the one nice little sweetener has been squashed.

And now I shall calm down in the fume cupboard.

Tony Blair said...

Look guys, I think you're all missing the point here, if you don't mind me saying. You know, we've got to raise the money somehow for all our manifesto commitments and I need as much as I can to buy Blair Force one.

If I abolish this tax, I'm going to have to raise it on something else.

Tony, Barbados

Vienna Woods said...

Coming back down to earth for a moment, why the hell should anyone want to leave their wealth to kids who will only fight over who gets what anyway. Let the little buggers struggle a bit, like we had to to accumulate what we have. Why should our kids have a free ride. So what, if they have to pay some tax on something they didn't earn, the ungrateful little sods are lucky to get anything anyway. Bah, Humbug!

Emma F shares the wealth said...

Notice how this debate has moved from what it was originally. People were making the sensible point that too many hard working and fairly ordinary families are paying inheritance tax, which was always intended as a moderation on the entrenchment of inter-generational wealth, which tends to build in unearned privilege and undeserved advancement, denying others a meritocracy. Fair point, because people with say a £300,000 house probably shouldn't be paying such a tax nowadays. Clearly the threshold is too low. But totally abolish it? Where the heck did that come from? Who is Byers speaking for here? The struggling middle class? No way! He's thinking of his pals in the PFI industries, the privatised utilities, etc, who have made millions, not through much effort on their part but simply through being in the right place at the right time. Now they want their kids to dominate us through their unearned wealth, which is what zero percent inheritance tax amounts to, since the ability of capital to attract capital and grow at the expense of others means that within only a few generations we will all essentially be slaves of a few thousand megarich people. Delighted to know that this is now Tory party policy though - I don't hear Cameron speaking against it and I'm sure Iain has been primed to release this.

By the way, for those discussing tax substitution and efficiency cuts. Removing the tax havens of Jersey and Isle of Man would release more money than the government currently spends on defence and roads put together. Perhaps that would be an election winner? Why should the rich here be free to avoid tax with these tricks whilst hard working middle class people on salaries have to pay taxes? Come to that, what's so cool about passing unearned wealth on to kids? Shouldn't they be encouraged to earn a living and isn't that a solid conservative value? Or do solid conservative values only apply to poor people (make them work) and very rich people (stop them paying taxes)?

nsfl said...

There are plenty of good reasons on this page to abolish IHT and the fact that it's "tax on money that's already been taxed" sure ain't one of them. Do people realise how much duty there is on booze? Or what percentage of your net wages which you hand over for petrol goes straight to Gord? Or that there's VAT on tampons (yeah, they're certainly a luxury, like restaurant bills and Jacuzzis)?

We are taxed on "money that's already been taxed" all the time. Do you pay council tax from your gross earnings? Or from take-home pay?

strapworld said...

Dear Adrian Yalland (Did you once write a diary?)

Points 3.6.9.10.12.13.16.17.18.20
are all related to the wonderful EU.

There is no escape from the pettiness and danger of this nazi state other than withdrawal comletely, reuniting with our commonwealth friends and the USA and doing what this proud nation has done for centuries namely T R A D E.

This shoddy crew in government (did you hear Mother Superior on today this morning?)have not got the slightest clue how to run anything, and when, eventually, others get to see the books (if they have not been shredded)the full scale of their incompetence and fraud will ensure the end of that party.

Lord Chuffington said...

Fruning Graplecard: They would tax farts if they could quantify them.

I think if they use super-sensitive scales and weigh you before and after a massive Johnny Fartpants-style guff, they could probably quantify , and hence tax, your farts.

It could decimate the market for cauliflower, kidney beans, and lentils, Alpen cereal etc ...farmers dealing in any part of the process of bringing such goods to market would no doubt no longer vote Labour.

I recommend they think again about introducing such a tax.

Jonathan M Scott said...

If we have £3.3bn that we could realistically cut on tax in the future, surely it would be better to commit such a figure to helping low- or middle-income earners?

After all, those who face inheritance tax have £285,000 tax free inheritance before they get taxed at all!

Adrian Yalland said...

Dear Anonymous (8.05pm). Firstly, why can't you leave a name?

Secondly, what is the difference between what I said "...given to the Government" and what you said "...it goes into general taxation"? The Government are the central collection point for taxation through the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise and the Court system, and the central place for the spending of money they have collected!

Thirdly, where did you get the idea that I am against funding public services? All I said is that IT taxes death, and in particular, taxes the death of people that have been taxed heavily all their life. It is unfair that people who work hard and accumulate a degree of wealth (and I am not talking about the Bill Gates of this world, as IT is increasingly hitting more and more people as house prices rise) are then forced to give a large proportion of their estate ‘to fund general taxation’, the benefits they will not see as they are already dead, rather than exercising choice about where their money goes.

There is a moral and an economic argument IT!


My points, in a nutshell is:

1. It is their money, and they have already paid tax on it during its accumulation. Why do the Government feel they have the right to take another 40% after the person is dead, thus denying the dead person the right to choose how that money is spent. The Government act with increasing arrogance over the issues of dipping endlessly into our pockets whilst showing NO visible improvement in the services our money funds.

2. Dead people no longer benefit from public services, and should therefore not be expected to contribute towards their funding!

3. The middle classes are net contributors to the public services (i.e. they pay in more than they take out), yet the middle classes are the ones who are NOT entitled to free care in old age (they are expected to sell their houses to survive on that), and then are forced to leave nearly half their estate to continue funding public services post mortem!

4. If you are irresponsible, don’t save, don’t work and don’t care, you get ‘looked after’ by the Government (at the tax payer’s expense), then get free care in old age, then die without leaving a penny behind!

I am not anti poor, anti tax or anti supporting others. I am however against ever increasing taxes which lead to ever more waste in the public services and declining levels of service. I am also against unfairness in the tax system which continually hits the middle classes – even when they are dead!

I am also angry that when the middle classes finally say ‘enough is enough’, they are accused by whining lefties of being greedy, selfish, nasty, uncaring to the poor old poor, and told that because we have been careful and got some cash to pass on, our first duty is NOT to our family (or favourite charity), but instead to fund the profligate and wasteful lifestyle of others who don’t contribute a red cent to society and expect to be supported in old age by the death of those who have already spent their entire lives supporting them!

Fairness is a two way street. If you want me to fund your old age because you can’t afford to, then show me that you are making reasonable efforts to meet me half way by taking some responsibility for your life and future! Don’t just sit back, say ‘I’m poor, someone else should pay’ then expect me to cough up 40% of my life’s savings to fund you.

You NEVER enrich the poor by impoverishing the rich! You just snap the neck of the goose which has worked hard to lay the golden egg. And then, we are all poorer.

CityUnslicker said...

I know I really shoudl write something worthy about why inheritance tax is good/bad...but really Malcolm - 'Fazer' I spelt Phasor in Star Trek. Scotty would have been so displeased; but then he spent his kids inheritance by having is ashes blasted into space-how about that for the next manifesto?

Adrian Yalland said...

This is not about the MEGA rich people - and the conspiracy theorists should stop peddling that lie. The MEGA rich already avoid paying IT because they pass on their welath through tax efficiency measures which their Trust advisors and accountants sort out - mostly by off shoring it in tax havens!

This is about the middle classes with a few grand saved up through their own hard work being squeezed until their dead bones snap by a Government which thinks it has absolute right to dip its greasy slimey hand into our back pockets as much as it feels it wants too. And, I might add, without showing any real improvement in public services as a result! All we get is fatter, richer politicians - which is why Byers-Lyers is now against IT!

Chris Goodman said...

What does “equality of opportunity’ mean? Does it mean that if you are more handsome than me (or vice versa) there ought to be a compulsory operation to make sure we look identical – on the grounds that good looks gets jobs? Maybe if you are more intelligent than me (or vice versa) there ought to be an operation to make sure we have equal intelligence? Maybe you attend a school that boasts your abilities with an exceptional education? In pursuit of equality of opportunity we should close it down. What if you have loving parents and I have cold parents? Is the implication that we should be put into a State foster home that equalises they way that we are brought up. Maybe you have ancestors that inspire you to great achievements and my ancestors are a disgrace? Should we abolish history and start from year zero? In short to enforce ‘equality of opportunity’ you have to destroy the past, enforce uniformity in the present, and oppose any excellence that risks generating achievements in the future that surpass your own. Of course cutting off somebody else’s nose to satisfy your spite is not an entirely unknown motivation amongst human beings, but let us not pretend it is a virtue. It is the sad and sick politics of hate.

Yak40 said...

Cranmer said 'But where, pray, does the Exchequer recoup the billions lost through the abolition of this 'death' tax?'


Close some government departments, fire their staff, after all there's nearly a million more civil sevants since 1997 (hey, same as number of immigrants come to think of it). Put civil servants' pensions in line with the rest of the world. Get rid of some if not all of Gordon's screwed up rebate schemes and so on.
That's a good start

Average guy on the street said...

Adrian Yalland, having read your manifesto I want to know one more thing: when and where are you standing for parliament? That was the most sensible manifesto I have ever read and it would definitely get my vote.

Adrian Yalland said...

Average guy! Thanks - was it the reduction on wine duty that did it!!!

I'm flattered though - want to run my campaign? If you can find an association to take me on, I'd love to stand!

PoliticalHack said...

IHT only affects 6% of all estates in the UK. It only kicks in at £285,000 and then only on monies above that. Transfers between civil partners or married couples aren't taxed.

It isn't somebody paying tax on money they have already earned. The person/people who earned the dosh are dead, the tax is on the deceased's estate.

I find it hard to get exercised about a tax that only affects a minority of wealthy people and goes into the general taxation fund to support hospitals, schools and other things that many people regard as essentials, not luxuries.

Not even Gideon Osborne could find it in his heart to abolish IHT.

Adrian Yalland said...

Politicakhack - it's the principle! Why should people who have paid tax all their life continue to pay tax once dead - to fund services they will no longer benefit from!

Chris Goodman said...

You have to laugh. Labour Party hacks look down at their crib sheet, and endlessly repeat – Inheritance Tax is for schools and hospitals, and besides you do not have to worry about stealing from the dead because only affects rich people!

To listen to them you would think that the wealth harvested from tax serfs only goes on schools and hospitals! They seem to forget that the serfs keep hearing about – yes there still is a free press – reports telling us that the money [which goes on the above mentioned schools and hospitals] has been wasted – or to put it more politely ‘soaked up by the system’.

Maybe more central direction can solve this problem?

Here is a radical idea. Let me spend my money on my own choice of schools and doctors, and I shall let you continue in your delusion that you know best how to run everybody’s lives.

Even that point about not worrying about the immorality of stealing from the dead because it is after only a few million rich people, neglects something important. That curious notion that it is better to live – and allow as many others as you can afford to help – independently of the State.

Since thought has not yet been completely nationalised I simply offer this as a thought – beware of Leftists bearing stolen gifts.