I have to say that there are few things I find more depressing than working-class Tories. People voting for their own oppression; turkeys voting for Christmas.
When car stickers started appearing on fairly modest Fiestas calling for an end to Inheritance Tax and I noticed the Daily Mail campaign to the same effect my heart sank. How can it be that the relatively poor have been conned into campaigning against a tax designed to share the wealth of the rich when they die, to prevent them from continuing to exercise their power from beyond the grave?
This has now become the headline-grabber from the Tory Party conference: only millionaires will pay tax in future. It has been packaged as a victory for the little guy. In reality it is a liberation from the oppression of taxation for those whose estates are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds which should rightfully be redistributed to the dispossessed who inhabit the wildernesses of run-down housing estates.
Even the Telegraph admits that only 6% of estates pay inheritance tax (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/24/nwealth124.xml), so this policy will benefit the richest sector of our population and disadvantage all those Mail readers who are being hoodwinked into supporting it. Inheritance Tax is not a left-wing wheeze growing out of the politics of envy. J. S. Mill was in favour of all wealth reverting to the state on death, and right-wing economists regret the passing on of wealth through the generations, which saps younger generations' entrepreneurial zeal.
A few years ago I attended a seminar organised by the Fabian Society--a well meaning attempt to 'modernise' Inheritance Tax to prevent just this sort of campaign to abolish it. The conclusions were fair, simple and obvious. The most helpful, which is also Green Party policy--hence my invitation--was to make the amount of tax paid relate to the wealth of the inheritor rather than the inheritee. Thus people including more relatives and friends, and especially poorer ones, in their wills, could effect distribution according to their own choice of beneficiaries.
An old friend used to say that where there's a will there's a relative. The disheartening conclusion to the media discussion of Inheritance Tax is that where there's a Tory spindoctor there's an ill-informed toady willing to believe him.