Conservative Diary

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Conservatives pass the one nation test with flying colours

One of Gordon Brown's favourite lines (parroted by Labour's natural allies, the Liberal Democrats) is that Conservative policies will benefit the rich. They quote George Osborne's inheritance tax cut as evidence for this* and sometimes the Tories' married couples allowance.

I strongly believe that both tax reliefs are justified even if, to some extent, they benefit the middle classes. Inheritance tax (or death tax) is a form of double taxation that offends a large majority of people and prevents wealth cascading down the generations. Britain - with one of the world's highest rates of family breakdown - is one of the very few countries in the world that doesn't recognise marriage in the tax system. That is why, alongside other pro-family policies, David Cameron is right to recommit the party to a marriage tax allowance  because the family is any nation's first defence against poverty.

But these are far from the party's only policies and they'll only be introduced after the urgent work of deficit reduction is well underway. Most Tory policies prove the vibrancy of David Cameron's commitment to the poor. My see-saw graphic below illustrates the extent to which many Tory policies have a pro-poor element. If anything there is a bias towards the poor, not the rich in Conservative plans. Samuel Johnson said that "a decent provision for the poor is a true test of civilisation." Despite what Labour says, Conservative policy passes the test... and some.

The graphic will be easier to read if you click on it to enlarge.

FavourVulnerable Tackling poverty is not only morally right it is in every taxpayer's self-interest. The breakdown of family and the persistence of dependency has greatly increased the demand for government. Policies that revive an independent citizenry provide the most sustainable path to a smaller state.

Tim Montgomerie

* During the Christmas period George Osborne made it clear that there would be no u-turn on inheritance tax.


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