Wednesday 25 March 2009

Forget giving rich tax breaks to friends of Fred - now

So Danny Finklestein is lining up firmly on Ken Clarke's side on the inheritance tax debate. Ken Clarke was right to think that this was not the right time for the Tory party to line up on the side of the rich by pursuing its blatantly unfair policy on inheritance tax, says Finklestein.
Good to hear that there is division in the ranks. With Clarke firmly slapped down by Osborne on Sunday, Finklestein has opened a new anti-Osborne advance on Tory spending and tax plans.
Finklestein's argument that public attitudes have changed from September 2007 when there might have been more support for IHT, certainly chimes with Fabian research carried out in the last few months showing resentment against those who take with one hand and forget to give back has powered upwards during the economic downturn.
Finklestein agrees that the Tories have to worry during this period about being seen as the party of the rich, and for the rich.
He says: The detachment from reality on the Right is extraordinary.
His argument and one which Alastair Campbell was making to some extent at our Change We Need debate on Monday is that the Tories are still vulnerable and could/should be doing better in the polls.
Finklestein, who ran William Hague's office, reckons the real problem with Hague's 14 pints story, was not that the public didn't accept Hague could drink that amount, but that they didn't think he would drink beer at all. This personification of the Tories as champagne swilling, posh boys has not gone away, suggests Finklestein, manfully.
The outrage over Sir Fred Goodwin could be restirred by the idea that he and others like him would benefit for the Tories' IHT changes.
If Tory central office is not listening to Finklestein, Number 10 should. The public quite obviously is more open to arguments that show taxation policies to be unfairly balanced in favour of the rich, and this is the time to make stronger, more public arguments about why inheritance tax is unfair.

1 comment:

Stuart White said...

Rachel: it does seem like a split in the Conservative ranks is opening up on this policy; nice to see Danny Finkelstein taking up what Ken Clarke started. Now is a great time for the left - and hopefully some Labour MPs and/or ministers - to make the case for IHT as an equitable tax. My Ph.D supervisor, Amy Gutmann, once coined the phrase, in the uS context, of 'balancing the burden in balancing the budget'. Labour should take up this slogan and show how Tory plans to cut IHT shift the burden of maintaining the public finances onto the shoulders of low-/middle-income households in order to give the affluent a tax break.