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Never in the history of human taxation has so much been promised from so many to so few

Posted on 18 November 2009 | 6:11pm

So GB has suggested that the Tories’ inheritance tax pledge is the first tax cut in history where those proposing it will personally know those who stand to gain.

I think this should be put to the test. Can we not have a list of the 3000 estates who will make six figures and more from Dave and Gideon’s plan? Can we not then send the list to D and G, with a D column for Cameron to tick if he knows them, and a G box for Osborne. Then alongside that a TPD box, to be ticked if those on the list are Tory Party donors.

According to that reliable source known as the Labour Party, Gideon stands to make half a million smackers out of the move. They have even set up a nice IHT calculator on the Party’s website, at

So that’s a tick in the G box and the D box. I know him too, a bit, so I’ll have my own AC box, but not being much of a Kensington and Chelsea moving and shaking type, I reckon I will be well behind D and G.

Sadly I was travelling when GB and DC were locking horns. Hard to tell from the media who did best, which suggests it must have been GB. When Dave does well, (in their opinion) the instant talking head blatherers make sure we know about it.

I am a little disturbed about Dave’s attitude to the whole thing. I see in the pre-match skirmishes he described today’s procedings as ‘a waste of time.’

This is most odd for someone who wants to be PM and therefore, we have to assume, has an interest in politics.

He is entitled to disagree with the proposals in the Queen’s Speech, or to say that they do not meet current needs, or to say that had he the chance, he would set out a very different agenda.

But you can’t say the measures on care for the elderly, or dealing with the banks, or energy needs, or inequalities, or parenting checks for mums and dads of unruly kids do not have at least some political and policy significance.

Ah, they say, but this is all about winning votes not meeting the needs of the country! Yeah, like that Flood and Water Management Bill ought to see the Don’t knows and the Disaffected rushing back to Labour!

Instead Cameron just dismisses it all as a waste of time.

How does he think that makes The Queen feel, having to dress up and travel in a coach and wave and sit on the throne and read out the speech, when the leader of her Loyal Opposition thinks we should not have bothered?

What I think his attitude reveals, or confirms should I say, is an aversion to policy. In Opposition TB used to look upon QS day as an opportunity to critique the government and set out an alternative vision and agenda.

Cameron can’t be bothered with the second bit. Policy? Bills? Do me a favour, I’ve got a photocall to attend to.

I reckon if Simon Cowell gave him a call and said ‘hey Dave, Piers Morgan is too big for my Britain’s got talent’ show now and I’m looking round for a new judge for the next series, do you fancy it?’ he’d be off like a shot.

I bet Simon’s on the 3000 list. Gordon knows him. So in the interests of fairness we should have a GB column alongside D, G and TPD.

GB is bound to know a few of them I guess, what with having been Chancellor for a decade. But at least he does not allow his policy to be dictated by them, nor ever forget that he in politics to help the many, not the few at the top who can take care of themselves.

  • Billy Blofeld

    I was more disturbed that Gordon’s answer to “how will you halve the deficit in 4 years?” – was…… drum roll….. wait for it………… “The top rate of tax”.

    Yeah – that’ll fill the hole………

  • Brian Tomkinson

    How about adding your friends Blair, Mandelson and Robinson to name but three. We all know that you and Brown will be up there with them. I suppose it is only Tory millionaires you have an aversion to!

  • Bearded Socialist

    He says it’s “useless” coz he’s lost without an aggressive soundbite, same as Clegg

  • Alison Hardie

    I did watch the whole debate and – I am a bit of a floating voter – I felt that Cameron has better delivery, but that Gordon Brown is more serious and has a better understanding of issues facing the country. Also, I have heard so many times on the news media today that it was all about the next election, but it actually seemed quite managerial.

  • Peter Prentice

    The social care proposals are right and much needed. I got no sense from Cameron of what he would do if he was on the other side of the table

  • Holly

    There is defintely a bit of inconsistency in Cameron’s approach. I have always voted Liberal but at least when Blair was leader of the opposition I knew what he wanted to do

  • Hilary Gee

    Why did the BBC News have one quote from the PM and Cameron (bizarrely, repeated twice) then endless platituding from Nick Robinson. He may have seen the debate live. We didn’t and we are entitled to more of it on the news bulletins

  • Rory Gallivan

    This may be a bit obvious, but it is most amusing to hear Alastair Campbell, former right hand man of Tony Blair, depicting David Cameron as celebrity-obsessed and lacking substance.

  • Mr Eugenides

    Presumably Mr Blair will also be one of those multi-millionaires benefiting from the IHT cut?

  • Djunfitforwork

    The BBC is intent on self-destruction -covering up the moral and policy vacuum that is the Tory Party in order to be savvy to the assumed “zeitgest”. Good luck under the Tories -BBC!

    For example -todays’ Queen’s Speech was once again strong on policy -and pretty specific policy at that -helping millions whilst offering reassurance to the markets with the Fiscal Responsibilty Bill. To lead on Cameron’s spurious accusations instead of actual policy initiatives is irresponsible to the public.

    As for the “who got us into this mess” touted by the Tory sub-bloggers on news comment boards -er -have they not noticed that the financial crisis was GLOBAL? Who led the way towards global solutions -Cameron? Osborne? They were nowhere in the debate -or rather -in the wrong place with their neo-liberalism in one country “solutions”.

  • alienfromzog

    I enjoy reading your blog Alastair.

    It’s true to say that David Cameron is a brilliant politician. His oratory in the house today was particularly effective.

    And that’s why he scares me so much. The very few policies we can see from him will massively damage the country but he has a strategy to win 2 terms which is very simple and boils down to a simple sound bite or two:

    “Labour has bankrupted the country… again”
    “Britain is broken”

    On the basis of this he doesn’t need policies for this or the next election – if he wins, in 4 years time, having done very little and even less good, he will go to the country with a polished version of: “We’re sorry we’ve done so badly but we couldn’t have done any better, look at the mess we inherited”

    Why is the Labour party being so ineffective at challenging him on the facts. He stated today that violent crime is up by 70% which is simply a lie. According to the British Crime Survey (i.e. all crime, not just reported crime) it’s half the peak level of 1996 and close to an historic low. As a life-long Labour supporter, I am frustrated that my party seems ineffectual at fighting him. I am still not sure if the British public will see through him or whether the constant media bias we be enough to stop him being properly challenged but if the Labour party won’t fight then we are giving the election and the country to Dave and I genuinely fear for the damage he will do.

  • joseph jenkins

    Dear Alastair,

    I applaud your campaign to highlight mental illness and depression in society. As a child brought up by a depressed father I know first hand how mental illness devastates a family.

    My father served in the Merchant Navy from 1939 to 1942 but was invalided out with “shell shock” when he was 21. Consequently he suffered from depression and insomnia all his life. As well as undergoing electric shock treatment he was prescribed barbiturates for 40 years to which he became addicted. When he died aged 61 in 1983 I found among his books one entitled Towards Diagnosis: A family Doctor’s Approach and I noted the well thumbed pages on the chapter entitled “Mental Disorders”. According to the book depression can be either endogenous or it can be psychoneurotic, ‘which follows from adverse circumstances’; my father’s psychoneurotic depression being the result of the horrors of the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of war.

    In March 2003, exactly twenty years after my father’s death, B-52 bombers took off from Fairford in Gloucestershire to unleash “shock and awe” on Iraq, a policy defined by the Pentagon as “a simultaneous effect…to shatter Iraq, emotionally, physically and psychologically”. As the cruise missiles smashed into Iraq I remembered my father’s words: “Watch out when a generation who’ve never experienced war come to power”.

    Given your obvious concern about depression, I wonder if you would be so kind as to read the following thoughts by mental health care professionals in Iraq today.
    Dr Majid al-Yassiri, at the Centre for Psychosocial Services in Iraq, writes: “Depression is at a higher rate than one would expect in a population this size – three times as high”, while Kholoud Nasser Muhssin, a researcher on family and children’s affairs at the University of Baghdad writes:“60-70 percent of Iraqi children are suffering from psychological problems and their future is not bright”; and Dr. Nadal al-Shamri, a paediatrician in Baghdad says: “I look into the eyes of children whose parents have been killed. The psychological trauma is so deeply ingrained that they may never lead a normal life.”

    Iraqi psychiatrists are seeing what they call a disturbing spike in mental health disorders, a problem compounded by Iraq’s lack of mental health workers, facilities and services. Mental health care professionals suggest the number of untreated or under-treated people nationwide reaches into the millions and some like Bilal Youssif Hamid, a Baghdad-based child psychiatrist, write of an “”an immense and unnoticed psychological toll, with long-term consequences”; while Hadoon Waleed, a psychology professor at Baghdad University believes that since the war, “eventually, the entire population of Iraq will require some type of psychological healing”.

    Milan Kundera wrote: “The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”, and although as a hollow self publicist you continue to enjoy a high profile and extraordinary career espousing high ideals about democracy and depression, there are many of us ordinary Britons who cannot forget the part you played in inflicting mental illness and psychoneurotic depression on a whole society.