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25 November 2009

The shadow cabinet’s £7m tax break

Now we know why the Tories hate inheritance tax

By Mehdi Hasan

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.

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. . . 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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