When I heard that the new much needed social care reform were going to be paid for by raiding the Inheritance Tax tin, I was frankly incredulous No one who calls themselves a Conservative should have any truck with increasing the burden of Inheritance Tax. It is a tax on aspiration, a tax on success and effectively licensed robbery. When the Conservatives launched their manifesto promise to take anyone who isn’t a millionaire out of the Inheritance Tax net I cheered. I remember making a speech suggesting just that at the 2005 conference, only to be told by George Osborne that this wasn’t a proceed of growth he intended sharing. Yet two years later he ruined Gordon Brown’s election plans by announcing he would increase the Inheritance Tax threshold to £1 million. Sadly that fell victim to the LibDems in the Coalition Agreement.
The government is doing exactly the right thing in reforming social care, and planning for the long term. But by effectively increasing Inheritance Tax he’s just robbing Peter to pay Paul. I cannot for the life of me imagine why George Osborne agreed to this. And agreed to it he must have. It shows huge political naivete and yet again the Government misses a chance to prove their Conservative credentials. I’ve said before that Jeremy Hunt isn’t a very political politician. He hasn’t got any sound Conservative roots. And this is proven today. He may be tempted to put this down to the need to pacify the LibDems, but if this had been a LibDem victory, don’t you think they would be shouting from the rooftops how they’ve persuaded the evil Tories to become slightly less evil?
Jeremy Hunt has made quite a good start as Health Secretary in some ways, but he does need to remember he is actually a Conservative, rather than a nanny statist. A true Conservative would not only never countenance the extension of Inheritance Tax, he would make clear that it is a tax which, in the long term, should be abolished.