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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thieving Tory Magpies Steal Our Budget Proposals

A mere eight days after Alistair Darling promised to slash inheritance tax and stamp duty in a keynote speech at the Labour Party conference, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has made virtually identical proposals.

Unkempt and looking worried
Alastair Darling announces groundbreaking proposals
Osborne told Parliament that a Conservative government would raise the threshold of inheritance tax from £300,000 to £1m, upping the earlier offer by Labour of a £600,000 IHT allowance for couples, rising to £700,000 by 2010. And he added that the Tories would scrap stamp duty for first-time buyers on properties worth up to £250,000, after Darling told Conference that he "recognised the anomalies of the current situation" and he "would keep the matter under continuous review".

Alastair Darling had described Labour's proposals as "the most important reform of capital taxes for a generation". He had outlined his plans to pay for these reforms with new taxes on "nondomiciled" foreigners living in the UK who do not pay British taxes. With one rate for those who have been in Britain for seven years and a higher rate for those who had been the country for ten years, Labour's proposals would raise an additional £650 million for the Exchequer.

A week later, after scrabbling around in a panic desperately looking for a response to our ground-breaking proposals, the Tories announced a £25,000 annual levy on nondomiciles, to hoots of derision from Labour members opposite. There was further mocking when Osborne announced he was adopting one of Labour's key "green" proposals: switching aviation duty from passengers to flights.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown described George Osborne's proposals as a "cynical stunt" from a "desperate and weak Shadow Chancellor". And the Chancellor gave a sturdy defence of Labour's policies against the badly-thought-out and uncosted knee-jerk Tory response. "I will not promise un-funded, undeliverable tax giveaways simply to prepare the ground for an autumn election campaign", Alastair Darling told Parliament on Monday afternoon, in a riposte to the Conservative announcements. "I'll propose such giveaways even if they don't generate sufficient swing in the opinion polls for us to risk going to the polls. And I certainly won't be stealing policies from the Tories. For this Party, lower taxes aren't just for Christmas - they're for life. We've always been the Party of low taxation."

"Millions of people will benefit under a Labour fifth term", Darling added. "In a future Labour Britain, only millionaires will pay death duties. In a Labour Britain, no-one will be punished for working hard and saving hard. You will not be penalised for wanting a better life for your children." He added that Labour was examining the possibility of axing the unpopular Home Information Packs introduced by Margaret Thatcher.
Well-groomed and looking confident
George "Magpie" Osborne
announces stolen proposals

A Daily Telegraph YouGov poll this morning put Labour 61 points ahead of the Tories, leading to speculation that Gordon Brown will wait until approval ratings are higher before calling a general election.


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