Sunday, October 14, 2007

Squeeze the rich.........

Gordon Brown got it wrong. George Osborne got it right. Well, that's according to the whipped up Tory press. Osborne tapped into the property owning wealthy Daily Mail brigade of the south east that produced this masterstroke of cutting inheritance tax.

While Brown was slow (rather like dithering around on elections) on the up-take and has now been accused of stealing the Tories thunder. The Cameron/Osborne ticket is doing well in the polls unlike Gordon whose bounce is starting to deflate. But the proposed cut in inheritance tax is a very big worry. Brown is under fire from his own side especially the Blairites who believe he should have spotted the need to cut inheritance tax before the Tories. This form of triangulation is all about shifting even more to the right before the Tories.

The Tory vote collapsed in the early 1990s as Major reneged on tax cuts. Unfortunately the usual Tory voter is awaking from their slumbers especially over the debacle over inheritance tax. There has been a rich clique of "celebrities" who have been greedily demanding a cut in inheritance tax. While the Tories are gaining in the polls, New Labour faces a very big problem as can they rely on their core voters? New Labour treats it's core voters with contempt but tries to entice them by chucking a few crumbs in their direction.

But New Labour is gonna have a very big problem explaining to the faithful why they are better than the Tories. The Lib Dems are imploding under Ming Campbell. Cameron clutches a bundle of trendy policies borrowed from his mate Arnie. This greenwash of the Tories may attract some Lib Dems. The Lib Dem, at the end of the day, voter is a Tory but is too embarrassed to admit to it. Whether Cameron can swipe Labour voters over to his camp time will tell.

Anyway, why the beef about inheritance tax? Because it was meant to be progressive and it effects 6% of estates. At the moment the threshold is £300,000 with a 40% tax but that will be increased to £600,000 threshold. The cut in this tax will create an unfair advantage for the wealthy but the motto in this society is "greed is good" as opposed to that wild idea of redistribution of wealth... This distorts even more so the power relationships in society already made worse by the inflation in the property market.

The problem is that many people want to have a Scandinavian model of a welfare state yet also want an American style of taxation. You can't have both. While enticement of tax cuts may be a vote winnner the welfare state suffers. The next election will be undoubtedly be about tax and who can give away the most goodies. During the past 30 years there has been a shift from progressive to regressive taxation and it will continue.

The Tory voter has come out from under its stone to go out and vote. Can the same be said of New Labour and it's voters?

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