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Great analysis. It reminds me of the old phrase- 'Oh what a web we weave, when first we practice to decieve'!

Ministers were considering plans to reform the Inheritance Tax rules months before the Conservatives came up with their own proposals, The Telegraph can reveal.

Enough said on this one I think, perhaps do the gracious thing and admit we were wrong and I do sometimes believe in articles printed in the Press!

After the evidence Labour produced about Iraq having WMDs how can anyone believe this lying deceitful government? Dishonesty is at the core of everything they do.

"Ministers were considering plans to reform the Inheritance Tax rules months before the Conservatives came up with their own proposals, The Telegraph can reveal.

Enough said on this one I think, perhaps do the gracious thing and admit we were wrong and I do sometimes believe in articles printed in the Press"

Not if its written in the Telegraph, dismal Brownite rag that it has become.

The Telegraph story you refer to refers to the same evidence as me, EuroTory. Indeed, it was their Home Affairs Correspondent's FOI request that prompted this information. He therefore has some interest in making it into a story. Even the BBC has now reported on it more cautiously.

It may well be the case that the Treasury was planning this - my point is that they haven't proved that yet.

It's very hard to prove intentions. The best proof would be in the form of an original document detailing the reform as announced in the PBR, and for there to be some form of official approval of the proposals dated to before conference but ideally much earlier in the year.

That's not likely to happen and I don't know if it is wise for the party to pursue this in case they get their fingers burnt if it does, but I'll remain sceptical until then.

The whole episode points towards the government taking our idea. 10 years to do something about IHT reform and nothing done, then George Osborne announces a rise in the threshold and the Conservatives have a bounce in the polls. The Prime Minister backs down over the election and then in the PBR Darling acts. Brown and this tired corrupt government are on the ropes, let's go get them!

It sounds like a lot of Ed Balls to me!

Enough said.....


It's been interesting listening to BBC 2,3,4: 4 has become more tentative about "proof". What is evident is that Chancellors seek advice about IHT, but the "evidence" doesn't feature any content: ie. IHT up or down.

Surprising that with a politicised Civil Service, they couldn't create some more convincing "evidence", after all: WMDs.

Hardly really evidence to make anyone with half a brain conclude that they thought of it first!

I've just watched C4 News who added the latest twist to this saga. As the paperwork proves nothing an unnamed 'government source' is now claiming that the Tories have a mole inside the Treasury and that's where they got the idea for cutting IHT from! Yes - C4 did deliver this story with a (pretty) straight face. Considering John Redwood proposed abolishing IHT in his report in the summer - a report that was well received and got wide coverage - it seems astonishing to me that C4 are giving this story the time of day. Looks like it won't be too long before they carry Gordon off to the funny farm - his paranoid delusions seem to be getting the better of him.

The plot thickens. Downing St. are now saying that they suspect there is a 'conservative mole' inside the Treasury and that the Conservatives are getting wind of Government policies ahead of an announcement and pinching them. Blatant spin to deflect attention from the central point the Deputy Editor quite rightly makes above. But, get this:

Ken Clarke, when Chancellor, was dogged by a flood of Treasury leaks to his shadow, Gordon Brown. Brown requested his spin doctor, Charlie Whelan to make the most of aggressive tactics to undermine the Conservative Government. Ken Clarkes private correspondance to European Commissioners was leaked to the Sunday Times. 29 embargoed budget press releases were passed to the Mirror. Gordon Brown said with reigned sincerity 'nobody can condone the leaking of sensitive budget matters the day before a budget'. Jill Rutter (Treasury's official spokesman) said, quote 'Charlie is doing a great, if disreputable job. Leaks are spun in a damaging way for the Government'. So here we go, 12 years later, more spin and talk of leaks - from Brown.

Just while we are mentioning Ken Clarke - here is one of his vintage quotes on Brown for your reading pleasure:

'I've listen to the Hon. gentleman and I've got to say, the most interesting bits were when he was quoting me... He has as much policy content as the average telephone directory' - how true that is today. What a shower honestly.

Here's a good quote for use if Labour carry on claiming they wanted to cut IHT first. This is from a BBC report in the summer, announcing John Redwood's proposal to abolish IHT:

Shadow chancellor George Osborne said he would look very closely at the idea.
But Chancellor Alistair Darling said it would mean a "lurch to the right" if the Tories adopted the policy.

Oh dear "a lurch to the right" - so who's lurching now?


So now FOI is an excuse for the government to leak documents that seem to make it look better. Of course, if you make FOI queries as suggested by the editor, you will be told that the documentation has been lost, doesn't exist, is confidential, it is not in the public interest for it to be released, or it would cost too much to find it. The Freedom of Information Bill was always a dreadful con.

The difficulty, I imagine, lies in the fact that the original document submitted in January to Brown is defaced with clunking black felt-tip remarks - "No &^%$ing way! Are you out of your #*&^ing mind!?"

If I had to bet, I'd say that the plan had actually been to outlaw the loophole permitting legal arrangements for married couples to extract a double nil-band allowance.

If there was a note that said "Dear Chancellor, we think transferability is a just and prudent thing to include in the March Budget. Go for it." we'd have it in our hands.

We don't. There isn't.

Cheers for C4 heads-up, have added an update.

You're right to flag up Darling's "lurching to the right" comments Oscar, we should be hearing about that more.

In fact of course, Brown hasn't changed the rules at all. Typical sleight of hand.

Oberon Houston @ 20.13 Your last paragraph quoting Mr. Clarke gave me a real chuckle. I have to say that I can spend hours brousing through an atlas, but a telephone directory is definitely boring!

Will Woodward, chief political correspondent
Monday August 21, 2006
The Guardian

Allies of Gordon Brown yesterday delivered a blistering riposte to a call by the former cabinet minister Stephen Byers for inheritance tax to be abolished.
Mr Byers, the former transport secretary, called for the next prime minister to make the move to reassure voters that the "pragmatic and modernising approach of New Labour" would remain in Downing Street after Tony Blair left office.

But it was immediately stamped on by the chancellor's friends, led by the trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling, who accused Mr Byers of headline chasing.

It is true of course that NuLab did float the idea of cutting IHT. Sadly for Darling and Brown it was a proposal made by the despised Blairite - Stephen Byers (in summer 2006) and was roundly denounced by Darling. I'm sure there's some good quotes on that too.

Next thing that magpie Brown will be claiming credit a plan to ensure that winning independent MP's get nothing, whereas losing Tory, Labour and LibDem candidates somehow manage to 'earn' tens of thousands of pounds for the party out of taxpayers pockets.

Fortunately Andrew Tyrie's original docs are very well documented!

To use a personal example. When I was 9, I wrote a story in school about a boy who went with his best friends to a school for wizards. I did not publish it, nor did I do anything with the foundation story I had ; it might be sitting in the loft somewhere. I now want to sue J.K. Rowling for stealing my idea. That's pretty much the same value these documents have; the government were looking into the possibility of maybe doing something on the area of income tax. They moved when they saw it could be a vote winner.

Weren't UKIP there first?

Darling in the wake of Stephen Byers' article advocating abolishign IHT:

The proposal “may make for a headline, but it doesn't make for a prudent and sensible tax-and-spend policy".

"I don't think this proposal has much support across the political spectrum. The Tories and the Liberals have looked at it and they have backed off it."

Come on, this is meaningless wrestling, *both* the Tories and Labour pinched the idea.

In fact, to give Osborne his 'credit', the bit he did definitely come up with, offsetting the income by a non-dom levy was the one bit that doesn't add up!

As Mick notes, the Tories were far from the first political party to come up with this idea, and the TaxPayers Alliance put in the real work to highlight and fight IHT.

It's almost as if WWE are coordinating it, having billed it as a 'Brown-Cameron grudge match' to give some illusion of a real battle.

Right, this highlight's a potential problem with our news grid.

None of the above was countered as it broke with C4 news. The real sucess of New Labour in opposition was their lightning reaction's to developing stories. We should have had the Darling quotes in the bag and spokesmen ready to go after they raised this in the house. Within an hour we should have had faces in cameras pointing this out. We could gain ten percentage points if we get this working properly. A worrying reflection of the dismal 97-05 years.

I remember that Brown, in opposition, once flew from Edinburgh to London for 10 seconds on camera. This is more important than a thousand political broadcasts of wood paneled offices with shadows looking ready for power.

From these disclosures, should we conclude that Gordon Brown decided not to change inheritance tax in his last budget as Chancellor, despite Civil Service briefing on a plan. Perhaps this tells us lots more about him!

The real coup is not in whether they were or weren't planning to do anything about IHT, its that Brown has been forced to release papers to attempt to prove what he was saying, this shows immense weakness on his part, it also shows that Cameron is setting the agenda while Brown is having to respond to it. Above all Prime Ministers never like to admit their opposite number exists, for Brown to respond to Cameron's jibe is a massive climb down, worse and this shows Brown has a poor grasp of strategic politicking, for in responding to Cameron and try to prove what he was saying, he has put himself in a junior position to Cameron.

Gordon Brown's IHT "cuts" simply do away with the need for discretionary trusts -- saving about £400 on solicitors. George Osborne's proposals genuinely add £400K to the threshold.

I agree with Oberon that we're not yet good enough at our rebuttals. Pagers are iconic of the 97 election because they were used so effectively. Texts are the weapon of today. CCHQ should be armed and ready.

Well of course the Treasury considered the options, that's what they're for, to consider the unthinkable and cover all the bases for their political masters, just in case there's a volte face on the manifesto.
Why though is the increase for married couples. What about a well off single people, bachelor, spinster, why are they penalised?.

I echo the opinion of many commentators above.The 'evidence' provided by the Treasury does not prove anything.
Looking at the majority of the press today it seems Fleet Street are losing interest in this story now.

Looking at the majority of the press today it seems Fleet Street are losing interest in this story now.

Errr - not so much losing interest as realising it's a total own goal by Brown and burying it as fast as they can - at least I'm certain this is why the BBC and C4 are no longer covering the story, having entered the fray with some enthusiasm when they thought it might work in Labour's favour.

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