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?