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What a shambles. So it seems that the priority of the Tory party is the rich after all. Any word from your "strategist", Tim? He seems to have strategised a free hit for Labour.

Any tax cut should in the first term should underline our commitment to social justice. Lifting the basic allowance is the way to do that.

If the inheritance tax is fully funded by the non dom tax there is nothing stopping Osborne promising it will be in his first budget . . . or am I missing something?

I agree with Lord Lambton. Perhaps we could delay the implementation of the IHT pledge to the second term and replace it with a similar costing tax cut applied to the bottom end of the income scale?

"Tories to delay IHT cut to take a million out of income tax" would send the message that we're still committed to the policy but are shifting the emphasis in light of the strained financial situation.

Exactly DCMX, it was promised, it's funded and it costs peanuts.

Oh and it doesn't prioritise the "rich" at all. The estates of millionaires continue to have IHT levied.

What has happened to us this weekend?! 45p? IHT? What I can not understand is why we even brought them up? Somone somwhere needs to get a bit of grip of things here, I'm not having another 4years of Brown.

Oh dear. What is everyone on the other post who backed the announcement and said it would be the right thing to do going to say now?

Why does Ken Clarke think that he can make announcements without the consent of his boss.

I would say the reason it won't be wrote into a budget is political, if it is one of the only budget commitments made then it will make us seem over interested in it and then this will allow for shots from Labour with their pathetic class war front.

As for the first comment made I would make it clear that the Tories are not making the rich a priority at all, they are making WEALTH CREATORS priority. As is typical with all of you left wing labour types you are assuming it is deeply immoral to be rich because lets face it your core vote is based on the pathetic underclass, claiming because they are too fat too work or have more than ten children and make claiming benefits a form of employment in and of itself, which your party creates and allows to prosper.

Class warfare may have worked once but as was shown by the Crewe by-election people are interested in what you have to say on that front anymore, they are bored of you having only one line of attack because your policies are bereft of merit and have lead this country into the debt-ridden broken society which we are now faced with.

Bring on the next conservative government to fix it all once again I say, as Lady Thatcher rescued the disaster of Callaghan/Wilson let Mr Cameron please save us from the disaster of Blair/Brown through tax cuts for the true WORKING CLASS i.e. those who actually work and create wealth, and public spending cuts to remove this culture of not tax and spend, but tax and waste.

My God this really is much a do about nothing. Over in the States die hard Republicans are supporting a 90% tax on bonuses (they know which way the wind is blowing)and over here we're arguing the toss about an extra 5% that's neither here nor there and IHT. I wish right wing bloggers would realise perception is reality. If the Tories are seen to be the party of the rich they won't get elected because the majority of the people are not rich. Simples!

Has nobody learnt any lessons from Grammargate?

Just as the BBC stirred that up to suit their political ends so it seems they are now attempting to create confusion over tax commitments.

When will the party learn that they cannot say anything loose to the Daily Propaganda, The Propaganda Show, Propaganda night or any other thinly veiled Party Political Broadcast for the Labour party produced by Brown's Broadcasting Corporation....

The party have made an official statement, the IHT promise stands, end of story. The likes of Clarke should know better. Let's hope he finally learns the lesson now!

After all doesn't he want to get rid of the worst Prime Minister (Brown) in living memory?

As for the hysterical navel gazing from the conservative media and blogosphere over the last two days; sometimes I wonder if they have forgotten who the enemy are?

We have a Labour Government that is destroying this country and having apopleptic fit over the nuances of one or two loose comments from the Conservative front bench is not going to aid ridding us of the foul taint of Labour.

For God's sake get a grip!

I tell you what, I bet Tony McNulty is well pleased this row is going on today.

"Mr McNulty and his wife, chief schools inspector Christine Gilbert, have a combined annual income of a third of a million pounds and between them own two London homes worth £1.2million.

They live together in a house she owns just three miles from Westminster. Yet he has been claiming up to £14,000 a year in parliamentary expenses to help pay for the second house in Harrow where his parents live, 11 miles from the Commons. "

And his descendants will have to pay IHT, unless the wickedness of GB et al lowers the price of the properties beneath £1.2 million. Aha, all is revealed. Good family values though, helping the aged parents.

Gordon Brown has had the Tories over good and proper this weekend. And I would hasten to add, without having to try too hard. Hopefully he has pushed too early and we learn to deal with these provocations and CCHQ learn the art of clear, simple consistent communication so this fuzzy sandstorm doesn't occur this easily again.

Ken Clarke is a loose cannon.

Central Office needs to get a grip.

Ken Clarke was speaking common sense. With a £1.3 trillion public sector debt, 2 million unemployed (and rising) and a housing crash, how can cutting inheritance tax for those with assets greater than £600,000 possibly be about social justice?

Our priority needs to be cutting debt so that future tax cuts are affordable and sustainable.

Who is shadow chancellor?
It looks like Clarke is the shadow shadow chancellor----an alternate with alternative policies.

It seems that the Tories' economic policies are being made on the hoof. Ditch the inept Osborne and wet Clarke and bring in Redwood and Fallon.

Time for Clarke to go on bird-watching leave perhaps?

The one question that wasn't ask KC was "Is that Conservative policy?" and it would have had to be said that it was his opinion, shame on him for not offering it to begin with.

As Tim wrote on Friday night someone at the top of the party needs to get a grip. Clarke was clearly badly briefed today if he'd been briefed at all.

snegchui

I was thinking the same thing earlier. He must be rubbing his hands together knowing his story has almost been buried by this. Now I am a Labour man through and through however, I thought the BBC went well over the top on the main news tonight with this. It wasn't as big as they were making it out to be. They had Mr. Osborne's speech to conference and even had shots of audience reaction. Now I believe in fair reporting. THis clearly was not.

I am off out for a few Sunday night cheeky beers. Have a great night. I am glad Tim gave me the opportunity to say sorry to you sll in another thread. I can't say I will be cheering the Tories on from now on but I will try and stay on topic and stick to debate instead of adolescent jibes.

Browns Big Bill was run up over the past decade of government squandering - tax payer money given away to no great effect.

Those who benefited need to pick up the tab.

-
Special measures are needed to claw it back from where it was lost.
-

Trying to dump on future earners and wealth generators is stupid.

How do I explain to my kids why they should work hard generate their own wealth and pay off Browns Big Bill, when that Big Bill is the result of loads of unworthy, wealth destroying individuals having lived it up and retired in luxury?

p.s. I have no problem with people in the private sector (with private sector customers) pocketing as much as they like - their customers have chosen to give them the money - I really object to Brown having given my money away for no reason, and run up massive debts which I (and my children) will be expected to pay.

So Conservative policy is still to give a massive tax benefit to a few thousand wealthy people including Cameron and Osborne themselves .

An open goal for the BBC, duly taken in their evening News : first item "confusion over Tories' IHT promise"

Ken has never been a team player and never will be

I still don't understand why some people seem to think "raising IHT threshold to £1m" means a tax cut for millionaires. The whole point of this pledge was to end the injustice of people who inherit large assets having to sell them off in order to pay the tax bill on them. Frankly it's the state making money out of people dying and that goes completely against the entire purpose of the state in a very sinister way.

I surely can't be the only person terrified at the fact that people now openly say 'an open goal for the bbc' and things to that effect.

If it were anything else we would be outraged. The bbc should be de-politicised, but since that is impossible, it should just be sold off, within months of us taking office.

The IHT cut was very popular at the time for a number of reasons such as house prices were high so it was capturing people who wouldn't normally be caught and secondly the press were running the issue all the time as unfair. The mood was different then than now and one wonders if its quite at the same level in peoples minds as a priority? I think IHT will be an issue again perhaps more as things improve in years to come.

On the 45p issues and IHT, I just think its very hard for a sensible opposition to make absolute commitments as Labour are pouring eye waterings sums onto the inferno of debt ever day and each day is changing.

Good to hear. This is one of the few current commitments that most members and supporters back to the hilt. Mainly for selfish reasons of course, but that covers me too so I hope it's something that is implemented immediately and reviewed regularly in line with inflation.

Very different wording by Sky and the BBC, the BBC are all over it Sky presenting it in a more professionally balanced way.

What a pompous buffoon is Ken Clarke. He was always going to be a liability because he’s in the wrong party. He should be with the Lib Dem Woolyheads where he could pontificate and listen to European jazz to his hearts content. He is a tragedy for democracy.
Even more tragic is that ‘Call me Dave’ was responsible for bringing this twerp back into the Shadow Cabinet, when it was obvious he would cause endless trouble just as he did previously for John Major.
How I long for natural conservative to lead us out of this dark tunnel of compromise, corruption, incompetence and debt, but apart from David Davis I don’t see anyone who remotely fits the bill.

"Who is shadow chancellor?" asks Micheal

- I am beginning to think that Ken Clarke should spend more of his time ripping into Peter Mandelson. That is his main brief and should be an easy target.

GEOFF HOON SUPPRESSED HEATHROW REPORT

Labour Member at 18:37 -

"What a shambles. So it seems that the priority of the Tory party is the rich after all. Any word from your "strategist", Tim? He seems to have strategised a free hit for Labour."

Considering how popular this measure proved to be (do you remember your leaders now legendary bottled election?), especially in Labour held marginals, I really fail to see how this could be a "free hit" for Labour.

The recent pledge to go along with the higher 45% tax rate on higher earners, I feel, removes any possible attack from Labour that the Tories are, as you say, "the party of the rich".

I think your logic may be slightly flawed.

Ken Clarke said the Inheritance tax cut wouldn`t be a priority. If it is going to be made sometime in the first four or five years of a new Conservative government than obviously its not going to be a priority. If it was it would be done sooner rather than later. Ken was totally right in what he said.
The leadership won`t lose the election it is idiots like the editor of this site who thinks he knows the best way to win votes when actually the only way he knows is how to lose them.
If the Conservative Party is to win it must not be seen as the rich man`s party and that is what the leadership are trying to show but are not being helped by idiots like the editor of this site who are making the party look disunited and incompetent!!!

IHT is immoral.

You work, you pay your taxes, you save or buy your house out of taxed income. Then you die and the state comes along and demands another slice?

Inhereted wealth is a great way of keeping people out of the welfare system. Those who inherit more than £300k, probably invest the money, so it helps generate economic growth, rather than being wasted by the state.

Scrap IHT, full stop. Doesn't need to be "funded", it will pay for itself in about five years from the extra income from the - taxed - returns from the increased amounts invested rather than handed to the Government.

Oh - and the real issue is Gordon Brown's Billions of debt, run up over ten years since he last had a surplus budget, before Tony got re-elected even for the first time and augmented by the bank bail outs needed because of the hopeless regulatory system he put in place - which we opposed - back in 1997.

The policy is clear. Clarke has clarified his comments. They are now both consistent. End of story!

Ken Clark is yesterdays man, he has his entry in british political history, and has been perfectly comfortable (financially and otherwise) in his role as an opposition MP, and could continue to be so.

I had hoped/expected that Cameron and co would want to make their own entries in our national political history, and not of the sort that Brown will be condemned with.

I was worried that they might get in on great promises and not deliver (just as blair did (or did't)) -- but it seems they are not even going to go in on great promises - just pick up the rubbish that brown leaves them with and try to make a little bit less of a hash of it.

They find it so hard, drawn out, and slow to 'do the right thing' like sort out withdrawing from the EPP, but when it comes to doing the wrong thing they seem to do it entirely naturally and without hesitation.

If they have any mettle the need to start showing it, because it is so non-obvious its existence is becoming doubtful.

Cutting IHT is social justice. It is money that has already been taxed once and in some cases three times (stamp duty).
Please please get a grip at HQ. Why are we discussing IHT and the ludicrous 45% rate anyway.
We need Redwood and Fallon urgently!

John Scott nailed it on the head. As does MG. The IHT cut was popular because house prices were so high and truckloads of people were moving into it year after year. Now the reverse is happening. House prices are dropping like a rock and people are falling out of IHT by the truckload. The Tories may put it in the manifesto but I hope they don't do it any time soon not after they find out how bad the government's books are. Quite frankly it's disingenuous.

I find this whole thing surreal. At the start of the recession there were many doom sayer bloggers and I thought that the figures didn't look any worse than the '90s recession. But now as the bad news has piled up I think it really is going to be a lot worse than anything in living memory but now the same bloggers are saying the Tories should enact policies that will add to the debt and effectively saying the recession won't be that bad. Fraser Nelson complains about 'Cameron's debt' in a graph that clearly shows the Tories stopping the growth of debt while Labour's policies cause debt to rise and rise. The Tory policies are a start and combines with 45p, scrapping IHT cut, raising other taxes and then levelling about spending cuts will slowly but steadily start paying down the debt.

I'm puzzled by this debate as well. I thought Clarke had it almost spot on and has a common touch that chimes with ordinary people. IHT was a bigger issue when we weren't in a recession. IHT is unfair but its not a priority at the moment. The BBC news was strange they were all over the IHT issue in a long piece despite other major news items.

I just watched the BBC 10 O'clock news report on this story. It was disgustingly biased and trying to do the maximum damage. They did not show Ken's remarks in context. The context being that if elected we'll have to prioritise stabilizing the public finances after the massive damage done by Labour.
According to Tim's post @ 12:57 Ken was entirely on message. The BBC is trying to make the story that Ken was being a loose cannon.
I find it fascinating that we get the biggest coverage on the BBC when they sense what they perceive to be a weakness. I'm sure the BBC thought the original IHT announcement was a mistake and were shocked when it was popular.

I'm also very annoyed by the 'Reverse gear' graphic on here. It is totally irresponsible. Who needs the BBC when you've got friends like ConservativeHome?

Why do people try to make a moral argument out of IHT? All tax is immoral - necessary but still immoral.

Most money is taxed several times over, IHT is not special in that respect.

The tories really need to establish that they are trustworthy - again and again they give the opposite impression.

If anything, then wealth-generation should be tax-free, the shuffling around of that created wealth being the the main source of tax income. Not popular among 'dynasty' based wealth but a simple way to re-enable the UK as a dynamic wealth generating nation.


Is IHT the new EPP?

Mr Cameron must get a grip. This weekend has seen utter confusion over IHT and the 45p tax rate. All the while a Government Minister has raided public monies to the tune of £60k and got away with very little criticism.

Leadership occasionally requires a degree of nastiness and Mr Cameron clearly has difficulty reconciling this with his overwhelming desire to be seen as "nice".
He should sack Clark and move his chum Gideon Osborne away from a post that clearly does not suit him.

After tonight's coverage on the BBC, who can doubt that that grotesquely biased organisation needs bringing up with a round turn? Cut the Licence Fee to £75 and let the darlings sort out the consequences.

snegchui | March 22, 2009 at 19:31

You have hit the nail on the head.........as ever the BBC is up to its usual tricks.
A non story used to divert Jo Public away from a disgraceful reflection of politicians in our time....Senior Minister with snout in trough.

This country has been bankrupted by such repugnant champagne fuelled socialist Ministers. A mutual is about to go under and a couple more have uncertain futures. These are not normal times.

We are now well and truly experiencing the Bust after the Brown debt fuelled Boom and the BBC genuinely believes it is the Conservatives who have problems and who have demonstrated they are in disarray?

What is the BBC on? Please..........

M[email protected]:13 I agree entirely.

Also in relation to the 10 O'clock report:
I forgot to say how absurd Mandy's two penneth was. We seem to be outlining a coherent plan for taxation, spending and debt reduction in the medium and long term. The government seem to have no idea what they are doing and are at war with each other and Germany about Gordon's insanity.

The problems that Ken Clarke will cause Cameron are only just beginning....

This confusion is inevitable when you get a party that decides things by tactics rather than principle.
How is anyone supposed to know the latest tactic?

You Labour guys, DesperateWahWah et al. can grasp at all the straws you like.

In a genuine political party there will always been some disagreement and debate. You'll notice that once a clarification is necessary we're quickly back together. It's called Unity. You might look into it.

The fact is, this is all small beans to the public. The country hates Brown, hates Labour (both rightly so) and will show you just how much as soon as you dare call an election.

At which point, please do come on ConHome and start your whiny bleating again. It'll be even sadder.

As for the Conservatives being the party of the "rich". Sure. The rich. The Poor. The Middle Class. We're the party of aspiration and responsibility. You might need to look those words up. In the dictionary you might find them written in blue.

I think the key word here is "priority". It's obviously not going to be the first piece of legislation to pass through parliament given the mountain of debt to deal with, but it remains a commitment for the first conservative parliament. It's pretty clear to me. I think Ken was just caught off guard here. Absolutely nothing wrong with what he said, he just has to remember how the media can sieze on opportunities to twist words to their liking.

I'm frankly amazed that this story got any airtime at all. And as usual it's the BBC and the shouty people causing problems. Did anyone really think that the day the Tories got back into power, in the economic situation we'll be in next year, the first thing they'd do would be to cut IHT? I never assumed that, so Clarke's interview this morning struck me as being entirely 'on message'. I went out this morning, only to arrive back this afternoon and find that all of a sudden it's a big deal; because the BBC have turned it into one. And by going on and on about it, all people do is take attention away from the big political story of the day. Honestly, Tony McNulty must be grasping his teddy and singing with delight right now.

Surely the idea of this is to contrast our re-alignment of priorities with Labour's refusal to even consider re-evaluating their spending plans.

Labour are the epitomy of busy fools- rushing around in a flurry of impotent determination.

I actually think people would rather politicians admitted they needed to change things, rather than stubbornly refuse to alter a position. To that end, I too think that the "Reverse" graphic isn't too helpful.

Surely someone is anticipating the BBC game plan?

They don't want cuts - they will need a defence - most likely is to slag off the tories, so any cuts can be cited as silencing critics.

The only way to head it off is to promise the cuts now as a point of principal (which it is) - then the criticisms can justly be cited as a reaction to the cuts rather than visa-versa.

The whole coverage tonight on the BBC has really been very strange. It pains me to see such incompetant reporting as i do like every other aspect of the BBC (eg. its programmes) apart from it's very often biased news. The real problem is probably the big cheeses inside BBC news HQ who are pulling the controversy strings. With Jade Goodys death, a government minister milking the public and a riot death at Sydney airport I hardly see a bit of policy confusion by the opposition party as headline news :S

With regards to IHT I am rather confused as to whether Ken was saying it will still be in the manifesto but not a huge priority, or whether he seemed to be saying it would be shelved? I think am important point made earlier is the need rasie the personal allowance and extol the virtues of lower taxation.

The party needs to make the dire situation as claer as possible and be seen as the custodians in waiting rather than confused lightweights. Cameron must draw a line under this asap and make clear the party's line and then move on.

I still think Clarke had it about right - its not a priority. My wife, who is very non political, said she couldn't understand what the BBC were going on about. She said the news was bizarre in various ways tonight, not just the Clarke story.

Cutting IHT is social justice.

BWAHAHAHA, good joke. Cutting IHT is about making the middle classes more comfortable.

REAL social justice would be raising the tax free allowance so everyone benefits, the poor most of all.

Good to know that the choice at the next election now boils down to: which bunch of two-faced left-leaning opportunists do you want to rip you off?

Ken Clarke tends to talk in a stream-of-consciousness way, a bit like Boris. Very entertaining and knowledgeable but unfocussed and undiscplined. And a bloke who would literally sit on the same Euro-platform with Blair will never be a team player.

There can only be one priority - fixing the mess Labour has left the economy in. Everything else is secondary. This is a non story created by the BBC and the poutrage will be used to hit the Conservatives with.

It is absolutely unbelievable that the Tories are even thinking about giving tax cuts to millionnaires in the middle of a recession.

It's bad enough even in the best of times, but grossly immoral now when people at the bottom are really hurting.

Both Cameron and Osborne (as well as many on the Tory frontbench) will personally pocket an extra £520,000 each from this move. If they seriously think they could get away with such a breathtaking attempt to line their own pockets at the expense of everyone else who will suffer in this recession, then they can think again.

Let me repeat: both Cameron and Osborne will be giving themselves a £520,000 TAX CUT with this move. The outcry will make the Poll Tax riots look like a summer picnic.

"Let me repeat: both Cameron and Osborne will be giving themselves a £520,000 TAX CUT with this move. The outcry will make the Poll Tax riots look like a summer picnic."
And your basis for this statement is???

The Tories can hardly pose now as the guardians of sound money. Since 2005, the modernisers' mantra has been that they could not afford to be outbid by Labour in the squalid Dutch Auction over which party would spend me on skoolsnospitals. 18 months' ago, the dogs in the street knew that UK debt was a runaway train yet Osborne was dogmatically committed until very recently to matching Labour's spending plans. Even now, their "revised" debt plans imply a huge debt burden for the foreseeable future.

Northernmonkey must be using NULab mathematics. From 6 April the Inheritance Tax threshold will be £312k. £688000 lower than the rate proposed by the Conservatives. Inheritance tax is payable at 40% above the threshold, which means that the maximum saving would be £275,200.

Snegchui:

In 2010, the threshold for IHT will be £350,000 for individuals and £700,000 for married couples. Osborne has proposed to raise this to £1million and £2million respectively.

This increases the tax-free amount by £1.3m for married couples. When taxed at a rate of 40%, this makes a saving of £520,000 for multi-millionnaires.

Since both Cameron and Osborne are married and are multi-millionnaires (plus their spouses have very wealthy parents also), that means they will be saving at least £520,000 each (plus much more, if you include what they will inherit from their parents and parents-in-law).

Erm, Sean O'Sullivan, you might want to read my post at 01:30 to see how it is you who can't seem to add up.

Another product of the Thatcher/Major educational system I see?

This whole thread is surreal, in a 'Northern Exposure' kind of way.
I hope the media keep highlighting the unprecedented debt an incoming Conservative government will face - and the very tough action needed to get a grip of it. That is why the Beeb story tonight was so good, lots more pics of Cameron, Hague, Osborne and Clarke too. Only thing missing was Tebbit criticising them robustly, but we can’t be too greedy.

Why the panic? Brown doesn't do well in the media, never mind out of it. But Cameron....

Your figures are still weird.

Tell you what, tell me about the Blair's tax liabilities, and the rest of the Labour Bench. The wealth is in property and I agree holding onto a residence is the aim of this.
Tell me about Jowell and ex-hubby, tell me about Mandelsohn's mortgages, and then tell me about the majority of people between the current £350,000 and the new £1 million and tell me what percentage of all polticians of all parties are benefitting from this move.
Your attempt to make this particular to the Tory Party shames you. If I see politicians of other parties paying the tax voluntarily, I may retract my words, But what I see is a tax being raised in line with inflation (property or otherwise). What I also see is Govt ministers taking tax-free allowances for family members and then claiming the hard work of Govt makes it fair.
There is a psychology to the IHT that is most interesting and no party speaks about it.

I'm not disputing that politicians of all shades will pocket from this, but it is the CONSERVATIVES who are actually proposing this move! Labour and the LibDems are opposed to it.

You're argument is that all politicians are on the fiddle, so therefore this whacking great tax cut for Cameron and Osborne (who are actually proposing this measure) is ok.

That's truly disgraceful.

What Dave and George are doing is giving themselves a half-million pounds tax cut when the rest of us are suffering.

As I said, the outcry from the public will be horrendous if it goes ahead and you know it.

The proposed cut in IHT is funded, will cost peanuts, and unlike the proposed 45% tax, will affect loads of people who have comparatively modest incomes but have, say, inherited money from relatives.

These sort of people are to be found everywhere in the UK, and if they don't already vote Conservative they can comparatively easily be persuaded to do so, provided our agenda is not too right wing!

I didn't see Ken Clarke's interview because I was out all day. As far as the alleged confusion is concerned, I suspect that what happened here is that some BBC journalist misunderstood what he said - we're all human and misunderstandings and mistakes do occur. A good example is the mispronunciation of Scottish place names - the BBC shouldn't get these wrong but they do, even though they've got a pronunciation unit. Their defence coverage is also somewhat shaky. In a recent example they thought that a well known cavalry regiment was a batallion! Only the infantry and REME have batallions - BBC please note.

I see that CCHQ has now issued a statement reaffirming the IHT pledge - this should conclude the matter.

How to save £three trillion? - close down the useless and diversive Equality and Human Rights Commisson and sack eveyone with "Diversity" or "Cohesion" in their job title - Job Done

It seems Kenneth Clarke just can't keep his mouth shut or instead, such as a non-troublemaker would do, refer to the shadow Chancellor, when asked a direct question about tax. Yesterday, he indicated that Tory policy to increase the threshold for IHT was not really a policy but more of an "aspiration". To which an almost instant rebuttal was given by a party 'spokesperson', as yet unnamed, that the Conservative party was still committed to its manifesto pledge to cut the tax. And of course never one to be slow on the uptake or to miss a trick or a glint of limelight, Lord Do Nothing Knowall Mandelson, closely followed with an attack that the Tories were "confused". Although why we need an EU Plant and Labour minister to state the flaming obvious is anyone's guess.

However since everyone seems to be stating the obvious and getting away with it these days, I thought I'd have a go too, so here goes; One: OBVIOUSLY, Kenneth Clarke needs to keep his trap shut. Two: OBVIOUSLY, Cameron has no control over what Clarke is saying despite he was warned by many within the party before he appointed him from the fat benches to the front bench. Three: OBVIOUSLY, it does not bode well to be throwing the goal open to Lord Cringing Mandelson, who will have no difficulty sticking his big stupid face on Sunday telly to stick one up the Tory Party which was otherwise fast asleep when it let Kenneth Clarke offer his so called wisdom on matters concerning the shadow Chancellor.

It must be pretty obvious too, that cutting taxes for millionaires in the middle of a recession is about as stupid a policy you can get, and George Osborne should have nailed that months ago. But despite Kenneth Clarke may be right in what he says. 'Obviously. He should not be launching himself as shadow Chancellor in interviews but rather sticking with the plan. His ability to undermine cohesive policy in Thatcher's government was also one of the reasons why the entire country lost out when she fell as leader and her reforms were left unfulfilled. Hence now we talk of crisis again under Labour rather than how well we're doing under the Conservative Party.

All you've done Mr Clarke, is to create a perception of 'confusion' as Peter Mandelson said, and now you've had to issue a retraction - er, a clarification.

Quote: After his initial comments to the BBC, Mr Clarke issued a statement saying the Tories were fully committed to raising the inheritance tax threshold in the first parliament of a Conservative government. He said the measure would appear in the party's manifesto and that he supported it.

Yet, saying it will appear in the first manifesto is STILL speaking for the shadow Chancellor!

How about just keeping your trap shut and letting the shadow Chancellor speak on tax issues?

This policy only benefits those people with hundreds of thousands of pounds of assets. If it is these people we care about first, when people are losing their jobs, homes and businesses, we will be out of office for a generation.

It is a policy that speaks brilliantly to Labour's narrative about the Conservatives: DC/GO are rich, only care about themselves, talk of social justice is a smokescreen, etc.

I am actually glad this debate has happened because, under scrutiny, it is clear that raising the threshold for inheritance tax should not be an early priority for the Conservatives. Too few of our policies are put under laser scrutiny like this, and at least now we can drop it before it's too late.

If social justice is the priority, other tax policies should be implemented first - for example, reducing inequity for those on benefits seeking work who end up paying 100% marginal income tax when they get a job.

I know how attached Cameron and Osborne must be to this policy - it was the 'silver bullet' that prevented a 2007 election - but we are now in 2009 with a soaring budget deficit and rising unemployment.

The priority now should be to tackle the debt and deal with real inequality and disadvantage in our society, problems that have soared under a Labour government.

I would also make one technical point about IHT. We all hate taxes on this blog, because we are Conservatives. But if you test taxes against certain principles, such as 'certainty', 'simplicity', 'ease of collection' and 'ability to pay' IHT is actually one of the best, or least worst, taxes out there. Labour have increased the threshold under pressure from us so now only the wealthy pay it; let's leave it at that.

Hmm all these labour trolls rabbiting on about how the conservative party is the party of the Rich?

What about all the Hoon's out there trousering vast sums of money taken under threats of violence from the WORKING class as opposed to their supporters in the SPONGING class

Quite right, Bexie! Not to mention McNulty who claims for a house which is obviously not a stone's throw from me! And it takes me all of .... half an hour to get into Westminster!

Get rid of Clarke. He should never have been invited back.

He's a loose cannon and is so old that he's got nothing to lose.

The IHT change will make no personal difference to most politicians.

As very rich people, with access to tax planning experts paid for by the tax-payer they would never be so careless as to be caught by inheritance tax anyway.

The estates that will benefit are those where the deceased had reasonable assets, but was not so wealth as to be able to hide them from the tax man.

David (one of many) said: "And as usual it's the BBC and the shouty people causing problems."

What did you expect the BBC to do on a day when one cabinet minister is in "expenses trouble" and another prominent Labour MP has "girl trouble"?

Of course they laid in to tories, glossed over McNulty and did not mention Griffiths at all. Bolsheviks stick together....

I notice that this story is still one of the lead items on the BBC.It won't do them any good of course. On a weekend when yet another MP was found to be acting dishonourably (fortunately this time Labour)I think the majority of people will (a) realise that the public finances are in much worse shape than previously realised and (b)the Conservative party is being HONEST with the public in how to respond to that.

"It seems Kenneth Clarke just can't keep his mouth shut"

Well I thought Ken Clarke gave reasonable answer, which also gave the Osborne and Cameron some wriggle room to amend a policy in light of a very changed economic situation we now face. Unfortunately they spurned the opportunity gifted them to amend the policy and instead dug themselves an even deeper hole, lumbering them with a commitment that is going to be completely at odds with the economic argument they are going to have to make at the next election, which is one of austerity for everyone, but not where upper middle class people are concerned, hardly as consistent line of argument. In addition with Cameron and Osborne getting dogmatically fixated to a policy as they have here, and been unable to respond to changed circumstances, asks some questions about their suitability to high office.

I also doubt that the proposed IHT cut is funded because after all can't the same argument some have been using against 45p tax increase - the flight of the rich - be made with the non-doms who are already half way out the door. In which case this measure would add more debt to the public finances all the while the recession is destroying property values, equity value and stagnating cash leading to truckloads of people falling out of inheritance tax. There should be an inheritance tax cut but for the sake of public finances it must wait until we've turned the corner.

It probably wasn't a particularly good idea to allow Clarke to get involved in the first place. I think at least some of the people calling for the return of a 'Big Beast' were hoping for exactly this situation and I doubt many of those hoping for a fuss pay a sub to our party. Clarke is a very distinguished former Chancellor but the hope that he would destroy Mandy was always going to be balanced by the risk that he would cause internal damage by interfering elsewhere. He has now withdrawn, or at least tried to smooth over the situation, but that won't get much press coverage. Life's tough.

At least the NOTW smut this weekend was about Labour bonking. Nice undies!

The reason why so many people detest IHT is that they, or their relatives, have had to pay it in the recent past - when the pledge was originally made pollsters suddenly discovered that IHT was THE most unpopular tax.

It is not only the money either, it is what goes with it ie:-

1) The listing and valuation of the personal belongings of the deceased - a valuer comes tramping round the house.

2) Another valuer values the house and there are protracted negotiations about the value of the house.

3) At the time I had to pay it, it had to be paid up front (it could be paid on real property by instalments) before you got probate.

4) Tax was paid on the property by the deceased, so the property is, in effect, being taxed twice.

I know what I'm talking about as I was an excutor three times! I well remember showing the valuer a flight of Hilda Ogden style ducks and saying - "Well they won't be worth much." The reply was "You're wrong they're Beswick!"

NOW do you understand why I detest IHT!

Now that there is a real chance of forming the next government, the Tories have got cold feet over implementing their promise on IHT, which gave them a boost and frightened Gordon Brown.

What next from Kenneth Clarke, a statement that they should reconsider adopting the Euro?

Socialists as well as Conservatives will benefit from reforming IHT - the McNultys spring to mind.

Reducing IHT affects 7% of estates, and benefits middle-aged people who are almost all wealthy. Even those who are not are getting a great wedge of cash before paying any tax on it at all. None will be in hardship.

All income is taxed multiple times. You pay tax when you spend. That's how it works, money goes round in circles, and gets taxed as it goes. So, to pick on inheritance tax and say it's an unfair tax on this basis is ridiculous.

How is taxing dead people less fair than taxing living ones? I'd much rather reward living people with lower income tax.

The point is that taxation is always a choice. If you had 7bn to spare for tax cuts, what do you do with the money? IHT reduction for the richest 70%, or an income tax cut for 90% of the population?

My own view is that inheritance tax should depend on the tax status of the benficiaries - that is, after allowances, it should be treated as a taxable benefit for the recipient (not sure if it should be treated as income or capital). So, if you gave the whole lot to charity, or split it up between lots of low tax payers, you'd pay almost no tax at all, but it would still be redistributive.

Freddy's point of intrusion by the State at a time of stress sums up a good reason for a more sensitive approach.

The reason the raising of the tax threshold was put forward was to account for property inflation. To lose a close relative and then have somebody come round and say we want £x,000 NOW and if you have to sell the home you are living in so be it. No mercy, no discussion, no compassion.

The multi-millionaires that everyone is screaming about are still liable for hefty wedges and the 40% of £650,000 (If I understand it correctly £260,000) whilst not chump change to a multimillionaire is not a great addition. To someone who is on a £40,000 year salary and left a house worth £650,000 that now comes with an immediate taxbill of £120,000 at a vulnerable period of their life, it is a major pain. You either have to move out, sell (is the market good?) or take a mortgage and get tenants in to service it. And for what? For a vengeful, useless Govt that gets its tax-relief in advance by spurious second-home allowance claims.

Would it be my priority? No. Should it definitely go through? After some thought I think in separating out property and other assets, and try to prevent people buying "death-houses" 6 months before they go and allowing deferment\exemption on only 1 property, inhabited for x years before death.. Not what is currently on the Tory table, I agree.

Chickens coming home to roost - all headless.

Hey, how about a general tax cut?

That's sound conservative principal. But then, hey, the leaders of the Conservative Party are not Conservatives. Cameron and his cronies are liberals (in the North American sense of the word).

Conservatives get elected because they are Conservative and the populace wants this; at least until 50% of the population is dependant on governmetn payments.

This doesn't leave much time. Wake Up!!

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