The shadow cabinet's £7m tax break

Now we know why the Tories hate inheritance tax

From today's Mirror:

David Cameron's closest Tory chums will make £7.1MILLION from his plans to slash inheritance tax for the super-rich.

A Mirror investigation has found that 18 millionaire members of the shadow cabinet will save up to £520,000 each under the Conservatives' flagship policy.

Among those benefiting from the controversial plans to raise the tax threshold to £2million are shadow chancellor George Osborne, foreign secretary William Hague and Mr Cameron.

. . . Eighteen out of 32 super-rich members of the shadow cabinet will be better off by at least £120,000. And the estates of Mr Cameron, shadow foreign secretary William Hague and shadow chancellor George Osborne will all benefit by more than £500,000 each.

As I have said before, so much for the Tories' "we're all in this together". The Mirror's Bob Roberts points out:

To put the figures in perspective, while just 6 per cent of estates across the UK will benefit from the Tory plans, the figure is 56 per cent for Mr Cameron's shadow cabinet allies.

Perhaps it's time Gordon Brown, Harriet Harman et al disinterred the language of "the many, not the few". Indeed, countless commentators have pointed out that the Tories' proposed cut in inheritance tax (IHT) drives a cart and horses through their claim to be a "progressive" political party. And the Mirror's investigation reminds us just how self-serving and out-of-touch Cameron's Conservatives are -- especially the shadow cabinet of millionaires.

This is not about class envy, or Old Etonians, or the Bullingdon Club. This is about the richest Tory front bench in living memory pledging to introduce an "age of austerity" -- involving public spending cuts and pay freezes -- from which their own estates will be conveniently exempt. There is no other way to put this: they are looking after themselves and their trustafarian friends and donors. As Gordon Brown said in the Commons last week:

This must be the only tax change in history where the people proposing it -- the leader of the opposition and the shadow chancellor -- will know by name almost all of the potential beneficiaries.

Every interview with David Cameron and -- especially -- George Osborne, particularly on the economy, has to begin with the question: "If we're all in this together, and this is the age of austerity, why are you so wedded to a tax cut for the nation's richest estates?"

 

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Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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How the Lib Dems learned to love all-women shortlists

Yes, the sitting Lib Dem MPs are mostly white, middle-aged middle class men. But the party's not taking any chances. 

I can’t tell you who’ll be the Lib Dem candidate in Southport on 8 June, but I do know one thing about them. As they’re replacing a sitting Lib Dem (John Pugh is retiring) - they’ll be female.

The same is true in many of our top 20 target seats, including places like Lewes (Kelly-Marie Blundell), Yeovil (Daisy Benson), Thornbury and Yate (Clare Young), and Sutton and Cheam (Amna Ahmad). There was air punching in Lib Dem offices all over the country on Tuesday when it was announced Jo Swinson was standing again in East Dunbartonshire.

And while every current Lib Dem constituency MP will get showered with love and attention in the campaign, one will get rather more attention than most - it’s no coincidence that Tim Farron’s first stop of the campaign was in Richmond Park, standing side by side with Sarah Olney.

How so?

Because the party membership took a long look at itself after the 2015 election - and a rather longer look at the eight white, middle-aged middle class men (sorry chaps) who now formed the Parliamentary party and said - "we’ve really got to sort this out".

And so after decades of prevarication, we put a policy in place to deliberately increase the diversity of candidates.

Quietly, over the last two years, the Liberal Democrats have been putting candidates into place in key target constituencies . There were more than 300 in total before this week’s general election call, and many of them have been there for a year or more. And they’ve been selected under new procedures adopted at Lib Dem Spring Conference in 2016, designed to deliberately promote the diversity of candidates in winnable seats

This includes mandating all-women shortlists when selecting candidates who are replacing sitting MPs, similar rules in our strongest electoral regions. In our top 10 per cent of constituencies, there is a requirement that at least two candidates are shortlisted from underrepresented groups on every list. We became the first party to reserve spaces on the shortlists of winnable seats for underrepresented candidates including women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled candidates

It’s not going to be perfect - the hugely welcome return of Lib Dem grandees like Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Julian Huppert to their old stomping grounds will strengthen the party but not our gender imbalance. But excluding those former MPs coming back to the fray, every top 20 target constituency bar one has to date selected a female candidate.

Equality (together with liberty and community) is one of the three key values framed in the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution. It’s a relief that after this election, the Liberal Democratic party in the Commons will reflect that aspiration rather better than it has done in the past.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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