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In general I don't want "gestures" of any kind, and those aimed at appeasing mis-guided socialist attacks least of all.

The seriousness of the economic situation facing an incoming government cannot be overstated, and it will require courage, wisdom and determination to address.

It will be pragmatically, as opposed to politically, essential that Cam-Osb are prepared to do the right thing for the country, as a whole; and that in doing so they discard, with contempt, the petty tactics of spin and perception that have done so much damage, that we are all so heartily sick of, and which you now suggest they perpetuate.

(1) Inheritance Tax is not a fair tax and needs to be done away with. Leave this alone.

(2) As long as the Trident money is spent on the armed forces as described, I have no problem with not renewing trident. However, I'm not military expert so I have no idea of the answer... isn't there some middle ground?

(3) The whole idea of National Citizen Service needs much more consideration. I just don't think its workable, affordable or necessarily a good use of resources and effort.

The only one of those that I agree with is the scrapping of Trident. Far better nuke armed cruise missiles aboard hunter killer subs and/or air launched. We would still have a nuclear deterrant but would also have more useful platforms that can be used conventionally.

Since 85% of the govt fiscal stimulus is in reality 'on loan' or on 'guarantee', it remains debatable whether the 'actual' amount physically 'spent' will add up to much more. The Bank of England for instance, thinks it could even make a 'profit' if it works. That said, the real answer is no one knows. However the assets which are used to support the contingencies won't just 'disappear', and there will be a value of sorts inherent to offset the amounts declared. - Remember they haven't actually been 'spent'.

See Stephanie Flanders report at the BBC:

http://tinyurl.com/br76an

Personally speaking I'd wait until we know what the actuals are before announcing 'cuts' in public spending, which in themselves would impair the economy and impact on employment. There's surely no 'advantage' to making more people unemployed and taking their incomes as well as their taxes, out of the economy only to add to borrowing and lower GDP figures which would increase percentage to GDP of government borrowing and give many social problems too.

I'm not sure whether the IHT policy would be politically acceptable during a financial crisis.

Trident is totally different to land based defences which offer absolutely no deterrent if they can be hit first. Trident offers the deterrent of 'last resort' and is to all intents and purposes isolated from attack.

I take some exception to the proposition that we'd be more useful "in the next regional war". I find these words to be warmongering. No one is setting out a policy for 'peace' on the other hand, which I think would be a 'vote winner' rather than yapping on about where the next war is like Tommy with his bayonet at the ready.

National citizen service?
I used to think it would be a good thing but now I think you just need to find young people decent job training and apprenticeships and toughen laws by scrapping and rewriting the HRA which prevents many ordinary disciplines being put in at an early age. Like the cane for instance done me no harm when I was at school, as long as it was used 'sparingly'.

Remember, the IHT cut was, according to Gids, 100% tax neutral as it was perfectly offset with the non-dom levy.

Of course, no-one seriously believes that Gids could raise the same amount in non-dom levies as the IHT cut.

But remember, on Conservatives.com itself, on the page that details the Tory economic recovery plan, the number one listed initiative is a two year council tax freeze! We are saved!

Incidentally, UK Trident missiles have a total cumulative destruction capability of 512 Hiroshima's, with a total of 64 missiles aboard 4 nuclear subs which can deliver payloads within a "few feet".

http://tinyurl.com/cftt6n

I'd watch it if I were you Tim. lolol

A clear vote winner and a clear economic reviver would clearly be TAX CUTS to aid people, families and the economy, as opposed to PUBLIC SPENDING CUTS which would act in the opposite way - 'clearly'.

Clearly, someone needs to look at this 'fun economic management link' before launching economic policies to devastate the economy and the social environment:-

http://tinyurl.com/adl7t2

Cutting inheritance tax is the sort of thing you do when the budget deficit is under control, people on low incomes are not paying up to 100% marginal tax rates for coming off their benefits and there has been serious reform of civil service pensions.

There are many more "unfairnesses" in our country to sort out before addressing the one that affects only the wealthiest 2% of the population.

If we cannot make a choice like this, at a time like this, then are we really up to making the really hard decisions that are probably only 14 months away?

Britain must retain Trident. We must have a multi-dimensional defence capability as we cannot predict the future shape and course of geopolitics. The concept of deterrence has to be understood, it is not simply enough to reply on conventional systems. Of course conventional/theatrical military infrastructure needs to be beefed up too, but we must retain a broad defensive strategy.

It is important for politicians to understand that there never can be a peace-dividend, or that military spending can be reined in. Let us not be lulled into the sort of thinking that stretched us to the limit prior to WW2 and the Falklands campaign.

Funny that we have punitive rates of IHT but ZERO tax on gambling. So if we invest in Shares we pay CGT but if we bet on the FTSE we pay no tax whatsoever.

At least in the USA gambling winnings are taxed which is why Powerball and big prizes are paid out as annuities over 40 years.

If people think inheritance is part of life's lottery why not tax the winnings from the real Lottery ?

It's amazing how all the fans of Adam Smith disappear when the topic of inheritance tax pops up.

Indeed TomTom, and to be fair and consistent, the taxman should work out a deemed tax liability on that bottle of sherry you won at the village fair and send you a bill.

In fact, let's make things ever more simple, and list everything that is not currently taxed to death, then add some tax to it! Problem solved!

1) No DC and GO - don't abandon this pledge you made to help so many families who are NOT super rich!

2) Yes - scrap Trident.

3) I am not sure about scrapping the National Citizen Service idea altogether but it might be an idea to look at again to see if it could be done more economically. If not, then yes I am afraid it has to go into "cold storage" for now.

Whether inheritance tax is "fair" or not, it shouldn't be a priority. There are more important things to deal with, ones that benefit everyone rather than just the middle classes.

I would only go ahead with the National Citizen service as I think this is a good idea which will help reduce youth crime and have lots of benefits for the country. Trident is a luxury the country can not afford and inheritance tax only benefits have`s rather than the have not`s who should be helped first.

The IHT pledge was at a time when house prices and shares pushed many people - not otherwise rich - well above the 300K threshold. The main beneficiaries would (and should) have been non-millionaires, ordinary workers, who had saved and invested for the future. I suspect the crash in house prices and investments will drastically reduce estate values to "normal" levels, and obviate the need for a huge rise in the threshold, especially in the short term.

I have no assets whatsoever, my offspring will inherit nothing except perhaps some post-demise utility bills! However I am morally in favour of people passing their assets to their children untouched by the thieving fingers of the State. It is a good Conservative pledge and to rescind it would be bowing to the politics of envy.

So far as I can gather from what I've read, Trident belongs to a previous era. So yes, scrap it and spend the money properly equipping our betrayed troops.

Ambivalent about National Citizen Service. Good idea in theory, probably unworkable in practice. All those leftie luvvies will scream about it and use Human Rights law to circumvent it.

I think there are growing reasons to abandon all three. It would be sad but I do believe that Tim is right, an incoming government is going to have to make stringent savings and it is unlikely that we will be able to get away without significant tax rises. A commitment to keep our 'pet projects' would seem pretty strange in those circumstances.

Scrap inheritance tax.

Look for better defence value than Trident.

Forget National Citizen Service.

Face up to the real issue and half the civil service, at least dole money is cheaper than their wages!

Maybe delay 1).

I wonder how much 2) has to do with US plans for upgrades, and an inability of the UK to run an older version of Trident.

If the UK wanted to be radical it would extend Trident, but with a view to reintroduce other nuclear weapon systems that would give us real independence.

On the Carrier front I think you need at least three Carriers and supporting escorts - we can't afford the first and Labour has scrapped the second. They are, unfortunately, unaffordable to build and operate.

We should replace with another generation of through deck cruisers.

Abandon previous pledges and abandon all hope of my vote. I want to be certain that what you promise is what you will try to deliver. I want more honesty of Government and constantly changing your minds does not provide that.

On the substantive point, there are taxes which are damaging and prevent what the nation needs to do. These must be reduced or eliminated or else they will impede recovery. I put inheritance tax in that bracket because I know from personal experience, as someone close to the threasehold, how its existence influences decisions, generally to the detriment of the wider economy.

I;ve just read George Osborne's recent speech here:-

http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2008/12/George_Osborne_A_different_vision_for_the_economy.aspx

In my opinion this was the best speech I've heard (read) him make. It has literally transformed my opinion of him. Until now I've been concerned that he didn't understand the nature of the problem. I've championed John Redwood most of the time. But here he clearly articulates, almost exactly, what I believe is the core problem and the best solution to it.

I feel very relieved, to be honest. I now have confidence that the forthcoming chancelor (we hope) does understand the problem, which is the first step to solving it.

Trident, No, but then it depends on how Cameron will project the UK internationally, currently we are very close to being unworthy of being a "leading world power", Trident is probably the only thing that has allowed us to keep our UN security council seat, also when are we going to have a discussion about what is to be done about the military?

Inheritance tax, No it has to be cut, why should savers and people who have tried to look to the future be punished even further.

National Citizen Service, Maybe... I would think looking at cost cutting many of Labours follies and slashing the state bloat will save a large amount of cash, if it does! then enact the NCS otherwise put it on hold.

The National Citizen Service will probably culminate in mass civil disobedience. A scheme seen as necessary for disciplining chavs will not go down well with the more well-behaved elements of society who would rather be off doing other things.

Trident is excellent value for money.

4 Subs for £20 billion (Over 40 years and as an insurance policy you can work out the cost per year) capable of vapourising another country on the other side of the planet who might wish to do the same to us.

It hopefully wont be used, but just because you haven't been burgled for a few years doesnt mean that you think you can get away with not renewing your house insurance?

"Britain must retain Trident. We must have a multi-dimensional defence capability as we cannot predict the future shape and course of geopolitics."
Unusually, I find myself in broad agreement with Tony Makara. Trident as such is not necessarily the best option, for the reasons of obsolescence mentioned by others, but the fact is that submarine-launched ICBMs offer the least stoppable strategic weapons system of all, and hence provide the greatest deterrent effect. One of the most consistent and profound lessons of history is that the unexpected happens every few years, and who is to say we might not need to threaten massive retaliation against some enemy in a few years' time... Sub-launched cruise missiles are a seductive alternative but have more limited range and are liable to a time delay while subs position themselves, possibly to the other side of the planet.
Air-launched cruise missiles are an excellent idea, though we need carriers and/or secure transiting over land; we make very good missiles in this country, and we used to make very good aircraft too. Come back TSR-2...
Re inheritance tax, this is a fundamentally moral question, and if we had a government & opposition driven primarily by moral principle as opposed to pragmatic election-driven considerations, nobody would have his childrens' inheritance taxed: it's wrong.
National Citizen Service is just another wacko gimmick, a foolish distraction from more pressing matters.

By not renewing Trident the Conservatives...

...may actually be honouring the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The people here seem to posess a fantastic lack of knowledge regarding trident.

Its the submarines that are being replaced, not the missiles. If we want a second strike system then it needs to be submarine launched and in order to launch icbms from a submarine the submarines need to be puropse built and if you wish to maintain continous at sea detterence you must have atleast 4 of them. In other words, scrapping the submarine replacements are not an option.

A few other points:

1) Trident II missiles can carry non-nuclear warheads.
2) Trident Submarines can carry conventional weapons in addition to SLICBMS
3) It really does cost a pittance, especially when compared to any ONE of Gordon Bank bailouts.

There are hundreds of things that could be cut from the defence budget in order to pay for these new submarines.

Three off the top of my head would be the Airbus A400, which will be obsolete by the time we eventually get it, F-35B JSF, which is rediculously expensive and unproven, it would be much more sensible to acquire the f-35c, and the obsolete and over priced eurofighter typhoon.

"By not renewing Trident the Conservatives...

...may actually be honouring the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

I don't know why people feel the need to comment on things that they clearly don't understand.

Even if the warheads were being replaced, which they are not, that would still NOT be in breach of the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

RichardJ: The National Citizen Service will probably culminate in mass civil disobedience. A scheme seen as necessary for disciplining chavs will not go down well with the more well-behaved elements of society who would rather be off doing other things."

No, because Cameron has said it will be voluntary.

Security is an uncompromisable duty of the state.

If Trident is needed for the security of the UK then it must be replace; if it isn't needed then it should be shut down asap.

If we can't afford to keep our country secure, then we don't have a viable country.

Voluntary work should be like charity -- entirely private and no business of anyone other than the individual.

Voluntary work costs the poor far more than it costs the rich -- a multi-millionare can take a year off and still live in luxury, a poor person taking a year off will probably end up broke and homeless.

In this way, placing an expectation of voluntary work on people is a way of the rich imposing on the poor - and so evil.

Tax needs an entire overahall - once an irriducible budget has been set for the state to do its job, the most equitable and efficient way of raising it needs to be decided.

It would be entierly wrong for browns massive debt to be dumped substantially on future earnings - the 'missing' money is in the hands of big business and the rich - they must carry the main burden of repaying it.

On an ongong basis our tax system has to be sustainable at the lowest possible rate - the massive screw up under new labour should be ring fenced and managed separately - not as part of the general tax system, but as an exceptional rebalancing of the national books.

The tories are thinking far, far too small...

Of course they should keep the pledge to reduce Inheritance Tax and, as soon as possible, abolish it completely. It amounts to unfair double taxation. The introduction says Cameron 'should be prepared to cut things that will be uncomfortable for Conservatives too.' By any logic - why? When elected the Labour party always looks after its own not caring a damn for anyone else so why should the Conservatives consider others outside their own supporters. What is the point of voting Conservative if we are not going to get Conservative policies or advantages? It is this wet, weak namby-pamby attitude so typical of the present leadership that makes me despair.

Yes, of course, scrap Trident. Defence doesn't matter does it? After all, we can then spend the money saved on the National Library Card system, on setting up National Citizen Service, on keeping all of the QUANGOS running and all of those other lovely projects that will make us seem NICE.

"No, because Cameron has said it will be voluntary."

Then whats the point?

With regard to Trident.
Can someone reaassure me that unlike Nuclear Power Stations and Aircraft carriers
where we require French partnership,
that we can build Trident all on our own still.

"No, because Cameron has said it will be voluntary."

I stand corrected!

@John Coles, Yes, Defence of the Realm is the number one priority for any government but is Trident essential to our defence? I'm only asking!

National Citizen Service was always a stupid idea, so it should be dropped. No one was going to vote Conservative so kids had the option of doing 'national citizen service', so I can't foresee any political impact whatsoever.

Renewing Trident has always been questionable, and is especially so now there's not much money to go around and troops in active combat are lacking vital equipment. So I'd drop this commitment too.

However, scrapping IHT for everyone but millionaires is inexpensive, popular and, most importantly, the right thing to do. It would be very unwise to drop one of the few tangible and specific reasons ordinary people have for voting Tory.

I agree with those who are for updating the Trident subs. In looking at the security of the country, you can not assume that all will stay the same. Examples? Beckett saying that food security was not an issue.. well it was last year, and still could be. We have a sound relationship with Russia and they are now in the G8 - do we? They are sending aircraft to probe our airspace continually and enjoyed wheeling the big stick with our fuel supplies. In addition, on this point, our gas and electricity suppliers are largely owned by foreigners, who put their needs before ours. Rogue elements from the IRA have come back to haunt us. You can't assume any stability and have to be prepared to defend any eventuality.

On the IHT issue - I don't think this is one to die in a ditch for. Much better to abandon stamp duty in my opinion. Many people are going to find themselves being made redundant and will need to move to secure employment elsewhere. It is invidious to expect them to lose part of their capital and so reducing their purchasing power and flexibility by expecting them to find the money to pay the tax.

I suspect that the idea of getting the young to join the voluntary scheme will end up costing so much to implement and monitor that it wont be worth the effort. For those who advocate national service, the armed forces don't want to monitor it and become baby sitters either - they want professional volunteers.

To keep IHT just for millionaires is the lowest form of the politics of envy, and has no place in a conservative government.

IHT is levied on assets on death. To say that this is a charge on unearned income is errant nonsense. At some point, the money to purchase the assets was earned and was taxed on the way past, so let's not try and defend IHT as anything other than socialist envy.

I don't know why people feel the need to comment on things that they clearly don't understand.

Tommy, why do you feel the need to be so sneering? The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, states:

"Desiring to further the easing of international tension and the strengthening of trust between States in order to facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery pursuant to a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control..."

There are, unusually for CH, some amazingly ignorant comments on this thread regarding inheritance tax.

This is an iniquitous tax that affects all but the poorest of families. When my late Mother died, at only 50, she left us the house we grew up in and a small amount of life insurance money. She had been a Council Officer and was by no means whatsoever a rich or wealthy person, lower middle class perhaps. Yet my sister and I still had to sell the house and move out of it just to pay the damn tax. That is plainly unfair and unreasonable and it is something that happens to thousands of people in Britain, if not more, every year.

So please lay off the totally inaccurate portrayal of this tax cut pledge as something for the rich or the undeserving because it is anything but that, it is a meaningful tax cut that will benefit exactly the hard working families so beloved of politicians and who make up the vast majority of our population.

This is not about millionaires it is about ordinary people being taxed twice on the same income and having their life's work and savings pillaged instead of left to their chosen descendants.

"This is an iniquitous tax that affects all but the poorest of families."

I thought only about 6% of people paid it? This might have been higher had house prices continued to rise but that isn't really an issue at the moment. Personally I'd like to see it abolished on principle.

Tax is always bad - it is a way of making people pay for things that they would not otherwise choose to pay for. (If they /would/ choose to pay, then it could be raised without threats).

However, despite being immoral, it is necessary, and as far as possible should be consensual.

Making arguments about 'double taxation' and 'fair tax' is all a bit spurious -- there is just an individuals wealth, and the wealth that the state have taken from individuals.

You could argue that the current state of the economy is not due to incompetent government over-spending, but due to incompetent government *under-taxation*, so it would be right for that the underpayment to be collected, and quite 'generous' that the collection is left until death...

However that would miss the point which is that tax is always unfair but is least unfair when paid in proportion by those who can best afford it (regardless of how much or little tax they have paid in the past)...

For inheritance tax - why not change any inheritance tax to be payable by the *recipients* of the bequests based on their circumstances rather than the estate of the deceased?

Inheritance tax along with stamp duty are not so much taxes as unarmed robbery. However the current Government have used lateral thinking in removing millions of people from the necessity of paying inheritance tax. Their method is by bringing the Country to its financial knees. I for one no longer need to worry about inheritance tax. thank you Gordon Brown.

We should cut IHT. It had a miraculous political effect, which is a bit of a clue. The answer, if someone is feeling embarrassed, is a complete overhaul of the tax system in which the IHT cut can be lost.

Maintaining Trident is essential. It is the nuclear deterrent that has maintained European peace for 64 years - the longest continuous period in recorded history. To give up this security would be the most expensive "saving" we ever make. The defence budget is too small for our Foreign policy and the answer is to change the foreign policy. If we want to make savings, scrap the eurofighter, which has no conceivable let alone likely use. Also pull the remaining troops out of Ireland, Cyprus and Germany. Why are we spending money into the German economy defending Germany, when they are far richer than us???
Our defence policy needs Trident to prevent a European war, a mobile armoured commando/special forces army to impose our will on tin pot dictators, hunter killer submarines to protect the trade routes and 500 guards to look good in public.

National Service is mere idealism. Scrap it with pleasure.

As Victor Bowman rightly points out, "Inheritance tax along with stamp duty are not so much taxes as unarmed robbery," and there's a similarity I don't think has been mentioned yet. If IHT were to be targeted only at "millionaires" it would be not just crudely discriminatory but would catch us all sooner or later: just as Stamp Duty has been overtaken by inflation and now proves a vicious tax on those with only average homes, so would IHT in a couple of years' time when we're all millionaires (Zimbabwe style) through the hyper-inflation caused by that nice Mr Brown.


Will people please stop refering to Tax cuts as spending cuts.

This is a particularly "Westminster Village" malady.

Yes, Tim, Conservatives will have to make difficult choices but messing around with pledges already made is not the right way.

There are plenty of areas to face into - you could start with politicians.

I no longer live in London but I am really struggling with why the Assembly Members are needed - why not establish a kind of Senate where the Mayor is held to account by each council leader (or council representative) rather than another debating chamber or expensive layer of bureaucracy (today's request from the Transport Committee is to seek views about cycle parking and cycle security.. can't councils deal with that?)

I am sure everyone who looks at this website has their own bete noire on government waste of money; mine is the Highways Agency and its Traffic Officers. These people are not allowed to help change a tyre due to Health & Safety rules. Instead, if they come along to "help", they will ask you what time you called the AA/RAC/Green Flag whoever and monitor how long it takes to arrive.
I know they mean well but what value is there really?
Members of the public are fantastic at stopping to help when they see accidents or emergencies; also, I find motorists are very capable of getting round accident areas without the help of many, many lanes closed off - more people in high-vis jackets paid by the State are another "luxury" we can do without.
Rant over!

Mr Angry, IHT most certainly does not affect 'all but the poorest of famillies'.Most people do not pay it.
I would be sorry to see this commitment go but whilst this country is borrowing ludicrous amounts of money things which we desperately want may well have to sacrificed.

With no first strike committment (thankfully) Trident is pointless. Even if we were to respond to an attack on the UK the attack would be targeted at a very small regime running a rogue state with an oppressed population. Killing thousands of civilians in a retaliatory attack targeted on the seat of power is not the answer and we would lose any international support that we had after such a response.
Trident (in fact any nuclear deterrent) is not an insurance policy as the scenarios that would use it are so remote that you would discount them if assessed objectively and not let sensitivities (usually RN based) get in the way of reason.
Trident is outdated and it's use is sadly perpetuated by warriors from a bygone era who sadly fail to adapt quickly enough to the changing environment.
This is an opportunity to lead the world and should be taken.

"Tommy, why do you feel the need to be so sneering? The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, states:......."

Once again, IT IS THE SUBMARINES. The submarines are being replaced, not the warheads and not the missiles. Therefore it is not in breach of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Incidently, every other permanent member of the UN security council is in breach of the treaty duty to increasing there number of warheads in real terms or decreasing the number but increasing the yield. The UK is the only country to decommission a large number of nuclear warheads, which we did in the 90s.

I think IHT has the biggest potential political impact, Trident must remain, while national service would be dead easy to cut.

Morally, I think the IHT pledge should go, at least until tax allowances have been raised sensibly, and quite independently of the current circumstances. The taxing of the poor is surely a greater injustice in the tax system than the taxing of the relatively well to do (after their deaths).

Trident is a suicide weapon - if we ever have to use it it will be practically the end of the world. We should retain it as a deterrent, but why spend fortunes on updating it?

Inheritance tax does need updating - the level was set when family homes were much cheaper than they are now. The same applies to income tax allowances - they also need updating.

I can't help feeling that the super-rich ought either to be a lot more generous than they are, or to pay a lot more tax.

"Even if we were to respond to an attack on the UK the attack would be targeted at a very small regime running a rogue state with an oppressed population."

How do you know? You can't predict the future. What if war breaks out on the korean peninsula? You think china is going to allow america to occupy its neighbor?

Malcolm Dunn is right. Not cutting inheritance tax will not hurt families. All that will happen is people who were expecting a nice big, fat inheritance will continue to have to pay a chunk of it to the tax man. Who on earth is going to suffer because of that? Mr and Mrs Spendthrift who assumed their parents would die by 2011 and have lived it up accordingly, but need the full amount to pay off their massive debts?

It is not fair to tax middle class families for being careful with their money and, rather than blowing it then going to the State cap-in-hand, saved up to provide for their ill-health with something left over for their children. But it's also not fair to tax interest on people on low incomes. It's not fair to tax people 20% when they have low salaries. It's not fair to send soldiers out into foreign wars with insufficient equipment. It's not fair for people to receive different levels of health care and education provision depending on where they live.

There is lots of inequality in our country - inheritance tax is a low priority when we are in a recession. I am saying this as someone who could expect a reasonably large inheritance, assuming that my parents have good health (which I would prefer was the case and I got nothing). Tories need to help people who NEED help. No one needs to have a tax-free inheritance, bar the fiscally irresponsible and perhaps a small number of unlucky people.

As a general rule I think it is wrong to start scrapping policies just because there isn't the money at a particular time.

If it is the right thing to do then it should remain on the cards. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be implemented immediately if the resources are not available. It should be implemented at the appropriate time when it can be afforded.

Of course there will be opportunists (that oppose particular policies) who will try and use hard times to try and justify scrapping specific policies. If policies need to be scrapped it should only be because they are considered wrong not because there is no money now.

Where policies are impractical at a particular point in time they need to be reprioritised, not given up.

On the three proposals:

IHT - I agree it is an important proposal. It sends a flag ship message in dire times. It cannot be dropped.

Trident - How will scrapping Trident effect Britain's position in the world. Will it diminish our position and with it our seat on the UN Security Council, our position in NATO etc etc?

It's all very well suggesting that it will save money but do we really want our military turned into some specialist offshoot of the US Army and do we want our position in international affairs diminished?

On National Citizens Service:

I seem to recall a poll recently that indicated the public or part of it were strongly in favour of it.

Is it the part of right way to address the problems youth face? I think so.

Now what does it say of David Cameron's conviction if he gives up on things that he believes strongly in when there is so much unwanted and wasteful expenditure elsewhere?

However, that said, as this will be a 'new' measure there is no need to launch into it whilst times are at their worst. This could be delayed until it is affordable but I don't think it should be dropped.

In my view there is plenty of waste and unwanted measures that need to be got rid of without looking at the Conservative policy portfolio.

Let's get rid of the waste and unwanted parts of Government first before starting to carve up the Conservative policy portfolio.

Now is not the time to show uncertainty on things that were previously the right thing to do. It's not the time for dithering.

Raj:
"No one needs to have a tax-free inheritance, bar the fiscally irresponsible and perhaps a small number of unlucky people."
It is not for you, me or anyone else, least of all politicians and governments, to decide what others "need" in terms of wholly private, personal questions of inheritance. Taxation is bad enough, a necessary evil to be maintained at the lowest possible level; but for governments to reach out their grasping, envious, spendthrift hands towards the money one leaves to one's children is truly disgusting.

Once again, IT IS THE SUBMARINES.

Once again, "and the means of their delivery".

Are you, by any chance, related to Tom Tom and, therefore, to Rick? You write on similar subjects in similar tones.

Perhaps I am "conspiracizing" (?) but I do wonder if one or two people here want DC and GO to go back on their pledge regarding Inheritance Tax so that they can then turn round and claim a key promise was reneged upon. As for those including Raj (with whom I more often than not agree) and Malcolm Dunn (with whom I quite often agree too) who claim that Inheritance Tax does not affect those of modest means I have to ask whether they've considered the difference between being asset-rich and being cash-rich? The two are not always interlinked. Not every child of a millionaire is necessarily at all wealthy in their own right and no Raj they may not necessarily have been spending the final years of their parent's life living high on the hog purely in expectation of a nice windfall!

My wife's father is asset rich and she would be quite badly affected by IHT Sally,and we are far from being millionaires. If all I thought of was myself then I would hate to see George go back on his pledge to abolish IHT for the likes of us. It would undoubtedly be politically damaging for the Conservative party too.
BUT , this country is living far,far beyond its means and there will need to be quite stringent cuts in public spending and quite possibly tax rises too.In those circumstances I cannot advocate cutting IHT which is generally only paid by the better off.
Equally I quite like Cameron's idea of National Service (even if I'm unsure how well it will work) and certainly support a nuclear deterrent, but these are pretty desperate times. Times not forseen by political leaders or finance chiefs anywhere in the world.

Mark [email protected]09, you have a very long memory.I'm impressed.

"Are you, by any chance, related to Tom Tom and, therefore, to Rick? You write on similar subjects in similar tones."

Kindly don't make accusations you can't back up.

The simple fact of the matter is we are replacing the current generation of submarines with a new generation. They can carry nuclear weapons and they can carry conventional weapons. The argument should be on whether we procure any submarines at all and not whether the nnpt applies.

Keep the inheritance tax pledge; Do not replace Trident.
We don't need nuclear arms here anyway, nobody will nuke us, and if they did we really shouldn't retaliate anyway.

inheritance tax should go, it's a punishment for those wishing to pass on their property/assets to loved ones after their death (theft from the dead is damn low and the goverment should stop stooping to it)

trident should go, it's from the cold war, you don't fight the past, you need to look to the future to prempt the battles, otherwise you will always be a step behind your enemy (that's why we don't have the equipment we desperatley need!)

the non volountary youth scheme should be scrapped.
it's bribary and slavery.
if you want to make the youth of today and tommorrow feel like they have a place in society then give them a good education instead on the social engineering forced upon them currently.
give them the option of skilled training if they do not wish to go to university (we have a skills deficit because of the lack of skilled training currently)
if they have the option of further academic training or skilled training then they have a future.
without the possibility of a better future they realize very quickly they are better off on benefits.
and to go with that, income tax needs abolishing, it pushes people into poverty and forces them to rely on tax credits.
whats the point in working if you still need a form of hand out from the state!

If National Citizens' Service is what I think it is - wouldn't it be wiser to spend the money on educating people properly in the first place and also instilling such radical ideas as turning up for work - EVERY DAY & ON TIME?

Malcolm Stevas, taxation is necessary as you say and currently tax receipts are shrinking. It would be irresponsible to eliminate inheritance tax as is currently planned given the state of public finances. Only when money has been found to pay for it and the national debt has been reduced should taxes like that be cut. The national debt should be the priority, not cutting inheritance taxes.

Indeed if there should be any tax reduction priority it should be to increase the tax-free allowance to benefit everyone, especially those at the bottom. If made during the recovery it might help speed it. Reducing/removing inheritance tax wouldn't help. It should be postponed.

+++++++

Sally, how does inheritance tax hurt (as in actually inflict harm) on someone of modest means? Now assuming that someone of "modest means" was left £400,000, how are they HURT by being taxed 40% on the £100,000 over the threshold? I.e. they receive £360,000 instead of £400,000. How does that recipient suffer?

I know full-well the difference in being cash and asset-rich - do you really think I meant my parents have £100,000s to throw around as they please? Obviously it's the house.

""Keep the inheritance tax pledge; Do not replace Trident.
We don't need nuclear arms here anyway, nobody will nuke us, and if they did we really shouldn't retaliate anyway. ""

The voice of utter decadence.

"Sally, how does inheritance tax hurt (as in actually inflict harm) on someone of modest means? Now assuming that someone of "modest means" was left £400,000, how are they HURT by being taxed 40% on the £100,000 over the threshold? I.e. they receive £360,000 instead of £400,000. How does that recipient suffer?"

All right, Raj - fair point.

I still maintain my point that DC and GO made a pledge concerning IHT and to go back on it would be reneging on a promise.

IHT promises should be kept else Labour off spring would go broke when their parents die prematurely of heart break at loss of office.

Trident is expensive, Taranis type UAVs may carry sufficient deterence with a good chance of succeeding. At the same time the number of warheads for a 2/4/7/365 response would be achieved with less launchers.

Re A 400M scrap it. Re F35b keep but put them on more, smaller, carriers. Also reconsider a proper super Harrier instead. to operate from STUFT (Ships Taken Up From Trade). Consider buying a few more C130Js and some more C17s.

On civil service a 80% cut is what is needed.

Would I be right in thinking that following your death no CGT is currently payable on any of your assets (just IHT if applicable)?

So, if IHT goes, will the estate instead have to pay CGT (if any) on the assets as if they had been sold at the time of death?

So making bequests identical to gifts during life?

Anyone know?


@Chris Southern
Trident isn't just from the Cold War. It is actually the cheapest defence. If you have an independent nuclear deterrent you do not need an even more expensive standing army, just the believable will to use it.
We need an independent deterrent because we cannot trust America to risk Washington to save London. Indeed we can trust them not too.
Russia was last century's problem. Nor is it irrelevant just because MAD has made us stop having European wars for the last 64 yrs - leaving us with a lot of piffling colonial wars.

What happens if we give up Trident and want to leave the EU? And France says no.

Raj:
” It would be irresponsible to eliminate inheritance tax as is currently planned given the state of public finances. Only when money has been found to pay for it and the national debt has been reduced should taxes like that be cut.”
Inheritance tax revenues are a drop in the ocean compared with the grotesque debts Brown & Co are saddling us with. Any rational government committed to political liberty and minimal government could immediately slash many billions of pounds from the shopping list of spendthrift politicians. Inheritance tax is immoral.
”..if there should be any tax reduction priority it should be to increase the tax-free allowance to benefit everyone, especially those at the bottom”
No, just “everyone” will do fine, much fairer than stipulating those at the top/bottom. And let’s get away from this ludicrous taxation merry-go-round of extorting heavy taxes then handing back this or that in dribs called “allowances”, a bureaucracy’s dream…
”..how does inheritance tax hurt (as in actually inflict harm) on someone of modest means? Now assuming that someone of "modest means" was left £400,000, how are they HURT by being taxed 40% on the £100,000 over the threshold? I.e. they receive £360,000 instead of £400,000. How does that recipient suffer?”
I hope you’re not serious. Forty grand might be peanuts to you but it's a lot of money to most of us. Anyway, if it was 40p it would still be iniquitous. Come on! Aren’t you supposed to be a Conservative? I’m not, but I thought you lot were still in favour, just about, of a small State, minimal government, low taxes….

@Tim Montgomerie at 1035.
I would have replied earlier but I have been to the dentist. When I read your entry, the toothache returned.
I refuse to believe that a man of your intelligence does not appreciate the need for our country to possess the ultimate deterrent. The nuclear weapon is finding its way into the hands of many unstable countries, including those led by frothing lunatics, like Iran and North Korea, with Pakistan not far behind. Soon these countries will have the ICBM throw-weight to carry warheads wherever they will. Is this the time to give up our ultimate deterrent? Do you see the French giving up their deterrent? Would either France or the USA necessarily spring to our defence if we were attacked? And don't think that we could quickly reconstitute TRIDENT if we perceived a rapidly worsening threat - we would have thrown away such knowledge and expertise that it simply would not be possible, just look at how we are positioned with our domestic need for nuclear power.
How long would we last at the Security Council of the UN without our nuclear capability? What damage would it do to NATO if one of its leading and most responsible members gave up its nuclear capability? How do you think that thug Putin would feel if we threw away our nuclear capability? - I'll answer that one, he'd be delighted - almost as delighted as Neil Kinnock.
And then there's China - yesterday a naval confrontation with the US Navy, the week before the stated intention to build Carriers. I'm damn sure that if, in the decades to come, the Chinese navy deploys a seaborne wing on a "friendship cruise" off Ushant I would want us to have the tactical nuclear capability to meet their threat.
I could go on but won't: I am utterly appalled by the way that this thread has illustrated the ill-informed thinking and irresolution of today's Conservatives. But then when one looks back to the time of Malcolm Rifkind, I suppose that was when the writing was written on the wall.
There is so much that needs to be cut from Government spending now and in the future, should the louche Notting Hill set sidle into power. But not the 3% defence vote, something that is already proving quite inadequate. Liam Fox must know this, but says little, I wonder why? I suppose to speak out would not be nice.

Malcolm

Inheritance tax revenues are a drop in the ocean compared with the grotesque debts Brown & Co are saddling us with.

When you enter government you can't say "ok, we wouldn't have done that if we'd been in charge so I'm going to jump in my TARDIS and undo it all". It's precisely because the debt is going up that inheritance tax will have to wait.

let’s get away from this ludicrous taxation merry-go-round of extorting heavy taxes then handing back this or that in dribs called “allowances”, a bureaucracy’s dream

People at the bottom cannot afford to pay the basic rate of tax without a tax-free allowance - that's why it exists.

I hope you’re not serious. Forty grand might be peanuts to you but it's a lot of money to most of us.

Thank you for ignoring my comment. Where did I say £40k is peanuts? My question is:

HOW DOES IT HURT THE RECIPIENT TO BE TAXED ON AN INHERITANCE?

Do I need to underline the word "hurt" and add some sort of link to take you to the children's dictionary definition?

I'm not talking about fairness or right & wrong. No one is ***HURT*** by being taxed on an inheritance. Ergo, even if the rules should be changed it is not a priority in a recession.

I also agree with John Coles. Trident is a necessary evil in an unstable world. It's no good if another country would use their nuclear weapons to retaliate if we were hit, because it would be too late then. We need our own systems because otherwise there'd be no guarantee an aggressor would believe a retaliatory strike would come its way.

Defence spending needs to go up, not down. Although I agree with nuclear disarmament we shouldn't be the first country to do it. Only once nutter states have had their stockpiles broken down and we're sure no one else will get them should we consider scrapping the nukes, and then only as part of a deal with all other countries to do the same.

"HOW DOES IT HURT THE RECIPIENT TO BE TAXED ON AN INHERITANCE?
Do I need to underline the word "hurt" and add some sort of link to take you to the children's dictionary definition?"

Raj, thanks for the patronisingly heavy-handed response... The simple, children's dictionary answer is that it "hurts" because having any part of one's rightful inheritance stolen by the State is not merely insulting but wounding, especially when the record suggests that whichever flavour of government does the stealing, much of the money will be lost through inefficiency and much of the remainder is liable to be squandered on things that are deeply foolish if not downright wicked. Will this do? I still find it difficult to see how you can claim to be any sort of conservative - though on this list, you're not alone in that...

"Its the submarines that are being replaced, not the missiles. If we want a second strike system then it needs to be submarine launched and in order to launch icbms from a submarine the submarines need to be puropse built "

There are cheaper options, including cruise from hunter killers. I favour refurbishing what we currently have and putting off the move to trident by a decade or more. How ever I may not fully appriciate the wear and tear situation with our fleet. porpoise built even.

Our nuclear capability has long been a source of controversy, particularly among those most intimately concerned with its possible future use and deployment. Lord Carver, while he was CDS, expressed great doubts as to its usefulness because in his view the critical question was "Will we ever use it?" and he could not foresee any circumstances in which we would. The recent death of Sir Michael Quinlan, former PUS at the MOD and widely regarded as the High Priest of nuclear theology, took from us one of its main proponents; but even he recently acknowledged that its use was of limited value.
When I was close to these matters, the telling point usually made was that the ownership of nuclear weapons generally ran in parallel with the theory that there was always doubt as to whether we would, could or should use them in time of war. The fact that there was doubt was thought to be as good a deterrent as actual ownership. Certainly it was said that the Russians were in no doubt that while Mrs T had her finger on the button, it would be used if the circumstances demanded that it should be (actually I have my doubts, but having those doubts was of course the key!)
It is available as the "masada" solution; for when we face national annihilation and there is no other option. Otherwise its immediate use looks very unlikely.....but then? We now see Iran, ambitious for a prominent role on the world stage looking for a nuclear capability. Would we really not want to be able to talk to them at a comparable level of capability and without it, would they listen? And then there is the possibility that we might need to mediate between Commonwealth members such as the nuclear-capable India and Pakistan. Would listening be easier for them only as long as we had a similar capability? Without one of our own, would we always be able to rely on the USA to provide our defence with a nuclear umbrella?
As Tommy has pointed out above, we already have the capability; it is relatively cheap and its potential as one of the clubs in the bag makes it hard for the Defence professionals to think of managing without it.
Then an element of special pleading enters the equation. The submarine nuclear capability forms a key part of the modern justification for our having a Navy. If the new carriers are not to be completed, if the naval air component is abandoned and further cuts in the surface fleet are made, will we suddenly find that Britannia no longer has any sort of connection with the waves? Similarly, if the RAF can no longer be allowed to operate a new shiny blue fighter, will the existence of a separate air force suddenly come into question? It seems there will always be a need for boots on the ground, so the Army looks pretty safe but at what level of numbers? There is an urgent need for a Defence Review to examine commitments and capabilities and an attempt made to reconcile them.
The simple fact is that if our Defence capabilities, other than nuclear, fall short of what is needed, then the government will have to find the additional cash to pay for what is judged necessary to allow the Armed Forces to complete the tasks that they are required to carry out. Otherwise the alternative is to reduce commitments.

I doubt trident will be useful - dictators today don't seem to care about their populations (vis. Mugabe) so in 'all out war' killing the leaders has to be the way forward...

Our leaders won't follow this policy because it puts them in the firing line instead of us...

But if the 'experts' say it is needed for our security so be it (I just hope their strategic/tactical analysis is better than their procurement!!).

And as it isn't that expensive (especially compared to starting again), it does seem best to keep our options open by not losing it.

"There are cheaper options, including cruise from hunter killers."

That would work out as more expensive in the long term owing to the need for us to produce warheads that would fit in the missiles, more missiles, more submarines etc. It would also have the disadvantage of having significantly poorer range and a significantly higher chance of disaster if something went awry.


I really do not think that 20 billion pounds is alot to ask for when you consider that quangos cost about 70 billion a year.

Britain needs National Services. However Britain needs a Compulsory national service. Having it voluntary defeats the whole idea of it!

Having a Citizens National Service will save money in terms of welfare, crime etc.

Just an idea. Why done we scrap one year from the Key Stage Three curriculum – make young people do their GCSE’s - 1 year early and gives those who failed them another potential year. The saving per head etc can then go on National Service?

"Britain needs National Services. However Britain needs a Compulsory national service. Having it voluntary defeats the whole idea of it!"

But I don't want to do it. So who is going to make me, you?

I agree that raising the threshold for inheritance tax should not really be our first priority but, at the end of the day, the Conservatives have made a committment; and to back out now would only prompt a gradual backslide on the very idea of slowly diminishing the state's share of our economy. It is also true that the total cost of the policy will probably 'only' be about 1% of the annual budget deficit we will face presuming a 2010 victory.

Our defence budget- least of all Trident, should not be touched regardless of the prevailing economic conditions. After twenty years of dangerously low levels of spending on our armed forces, it is completely unacceptable that anyone should expect the army, navy or airforce to shoulder any of the massive cuts in government spending our country requires. These are not 'Tory' areas in which we can shave spending to prove our political inclusiveness; our services are a national concern and their treatment a national disgrace.

We must do what is right, not just because it is cosmetic, therefore:
1/ Scrap inheritance tax

2/ Trident should go ahead if it is right for this country, whether it suits the US or not should not be considered. Frankly with Obama in power we might be better relying on Trident rather than expecting them to help us if the need arose.

3/ National Citizen service: I don't know a lot about this but it just could be absolutely the right thing if we are going into a recession

If your going to have any tax cuts it should be targeted at the least well off not the well off or moderately well off who would benefit from the inheritance tax cut.

Welcome back, Jack. In the helpful spirit that prevails on this Blog, could I point out to you that "your" should be "you're" and a hyphenated well-off would have polished your entry to perfection?
Other than that, you're coming along nicely although the point you seek to make is impractical nonsense.

IHT: In principle, this tax should not exist. It does hurt people, especially as the tax is due IMMEDIATELY, meaning that bereaved often have to take out bridging loans in order to pay whilst the estate is divvied up. I think this policy is a clear statement of intent that we think people should keep more of their money an not be taxed multiple times.

Trident is an interesting one. No policy should be decided without the say-so of defence chiefs. My personal opinion (as an Aeronautical Engineering graduate and ex-RAF serviceman) is that A400M and some Eurofighters should be binned in favour of more Chinooks, UAVs and C-17s. I'll leave the carrier decision up to the sailors among you.

As for National Service, the State has no business in this day and age coercing citizens into doing any kind of service beyond obeying the law. If we want people to do service, we could start by repealing some of the laws that cause sports clubs, charities and voluntary groups to close down.

john Coles. Why is it impractical to say we should cut taxes for the poor before the well off.
This doesn`t have to be done through inheritance tax it can be done by increasing allowances etc.
What I mean is that any money spent on lowering taxes should be targeted at the poor not at the well off. I don`t know how clearer I can be.
As for the other nonsense I just treat that with the contempt it deserves.

Wow, Rocks-for-Brains really doesn't like having his grammar corrected, does he?

The best way to avoid correction is to avoid error!

Will this do?

No, Malcolm, it will not do. There is no damage, except some overly sensitive idiots have their feelings hurt. Well, tough. Grow a thicker skin. I'm sure a Tory government would cut IHT, but there is no need for it to be cut on day 1, even in year 1. It can wait.

"There is no damage, except some overly sensitive idiots have their feelings hurt. Well, tough. Grow a thicker skin."
I didn't make myself clear. Confiscating the wealth - five pounds, a million pounds - that individuals prefer to leave to their children - or to the dogs' home, whatever - amounts to rather more than hurting people's feelings. It's State theft. If you think this acceptable it makes you complicit in theft, it makes you a craven statist, a lickspittle Socialist, an apologist for authoritarian Big Government. Forty grand, eh? That would make a handy deposit with which my son could buy property or start himself off in business; OTOH it's piss-ant pocket money in any sort of Ministry, probably what they spend on salt-cellars every year; or a fraction of the total perks that just about any MP routinely wangles on the expenses scam... For a "Conservative" you keep pretty seedy ideological company.

No-one seems to have raised the question of Trident's relationship with the U.S.A. Is it not the case that we cannot use Trident independently of America, because that is my understanding. So there seems little point in updating a deterrent which we can only use with the permission of another country, with its own foreign policy agenda and population to protect. Surely it is better to have a COMPLETELY independent nuclear deterrent, as even if its destructive power was less, other countries would know that we could use it with impunity? As I'm not an expert I await people's replies with interest.

Tim what about questions on these options in the next Con Home survey?

There should be alternatives e.g. "Scrap Trident and replace with cruise missiles saving at least 80%".

"Is it not the case that we cannot use Trident independently of America, because that is my understanding."

No, we do not need america's permission to use their satellites, although you would be a fool to believe that they don't have a way of stopping us. It is important to understand that the missiles can be used, albeit with poorer acuracy, without the satellites.

Ofcourse the solution to all of this would be to spend a few billion on creating our own satellite network for the missiles. This would be relatively easy for us as we build most of america's satellites anyway.

PS I'm sorry to keep going on about this but we are replacing the submarines not the missiles or warheads.

" Is it not the case that we cannot use Trident independently of America, because that is my understanding."

That's also my understanding.

I increasingly feel that replacing Trident is just a massive corporate welfare boondoggle.

I also tend to believe that nuclear weapons represent the ultimate form of collectivism, whereby the individual is wholly identified with the particular bunch of gangsters that happen to control the piece of land on which he or she happens to live.

"" Is it not the case that we cannot use Trident independently of America, because that is my understanding."

That's also my understanding."

Didn't I already answer this point, I'm sure I did.

The missiles use an inertial guidance system and star sighting, neither require a gps system. Using the missiles with a gps system is possible but neither america nor britain plan on doing so. It would be unreliable and dangerous.

"Didn't I already answer this point, I'm sure I did."

I was actually writing my comment when you posted yours, so I didn't see what you'd written.

But in any case, your word is hardly final and absolute...

No ofcourse not, lets not let facts get in the way of ill-informed opinion.

Make IHT cut an "aspiration" rather than a commitment. Cannot think of anything more politically insensitive to insist on this tax cut for this particular group at this time, when we shall have to say no to so many others.

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