3% Tory Lead Finishes Gordon’s Miserable Week

Graphic credit : ConservativeHome


Can you imagine the cackling of Cherie Blair? Tony sat beside her on the sofa drinking a decent bottle of Barolo, TV remote in hand, repeatedly rewinding the videotape of PMQs and cheering on Cameron in between sips of the wine, tears of laughter rolling down his cheeks.

Labour MPs in marginal seats this weekend will be wondering what they have wrought. Three times Blair led them to victory, the latest poll shows that after just three months, Brown is a likely loser, along with their seats.

The Tories really should consider sending Tom Watson a bottle of champagne for his part in Blair’s downfall, particularly after he lost that £100 bet with Cameron

The Tax Battle that Led to the Bottle

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: As Polly howls in pain this morning at the Brown/Darling rhetorical U-turn on tax, which she correctly recognises has razed the ideological ground ahead of Brown as he retreats, who should we credit for her torment. Osborne? Well yes, but why did he select inheritance tax and stamp duty as tax cutting priorities?

Matthew Elliott’s Tax Payers Alliance relentlessly highlighted the unpopularity of these particular taxes in the non-ideological language that practical politicians understand. They commissioned an ICM poll in August 2006 revealing that “significantly raising the threshold for inheritance tax, or abolishing it” was the second most popular cut after cutting Council tax. This September their YouGov poll confirmed that inheritance tax was perceived as being the most unfair tax of all and was the third most popular tax to be reduced, marginally behind lowering council tax and raising the tax-free personal allowance.

The poll findings made a deep impression on the Shadow Treasury team, proving that tax cuts could once again be a popular vote winner, giving Osborne the confidence to make the announcement that has turned around Tory fortunes. As Osborne takes the battle glory, remember who fired the opening shots…

+++ YATES TO SPEAK TO SELECT COMMITTEE 23rd OCT +++

Propriety and Honours: Lessons Learned

Date and Venue: Tuesday 23 October, 3.00 pm in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House

Witnesses: AC John Yates, Metropolitan Police, Carmen Dowd, Head of Special Crime Division, CPS and David Perry QC

Guido plans to be there too…

Last Man Standing

With Ming now facing the guillotine and Brown severely battered it is interesting to check what the bookies have done. The odds on Cameron being the only one of the three leading his party into the next election have been slashed from 25/1 to 6/1. Punters now think there is a good chance that both Ming and Brown will not lead their parties into the next general election.

The punters also reckon May 2009 is the favourite election date at 5/4 on. The most dramatic change is in the biggest party prices. Remember Guido’s crazy bet last month? Labour are 10/11 on and the Tories are neck and neck at 11/10 – in from 3/1. Lovely jubbly…

Thirst Aid for the Political Class

A co-conspirator writes:

MPs in Bellamy’s last night were being given priority service – with a queue for drinks, the barman by-passed those at the front and asked MPs joining the queue at the back what they would like. I saw this happen twice. I don’t blame the barman of course (or the MPs actually in the cases last night) – it is no doubt a directive from above telling the barman to do so.

But honestly, why do MPs need priority getting a drink? Is it because they have urgent things to attend to and need to get them down as quick as possible?

Is it important to their role as public servants that they get pissed quicker?

LibDems : The Game is Very Definitely On

Guido had lunch with a well connected LibDem who confirmed what outsiders already suspect. The two-year election delay means curtains for Ming. Freed from the fear of an imminent election there is a sense of release and a feeling that he can be replaced without electoral backlash – as if it was possible to poll worse.

Obviously the question is how? The party conference was disciplined by the shadow of an election, the annual LibDem MPs gathering has passed. Clearly ill-health would be the best face-saving excuse. The status anxiety of Elspeth is thought to prohibit both the passing to Campbell of the whiskey and revolver or hope of him going voluntarily. So how is it to be done?

Huhne and Clegg are soft campaigning for the succession, but spare some pity for the ambitious Ed Davey. As Ming’s chief-of-staff he can’t do anything that smacks of disloyalty.

There is no fool, like an old fool, if Ming stubbornly resists retiring it could get messy and humiliating. Guido can’t wait…

Gordon’s “Vision” Problem

Gordon on Monday kept repeating that he needed time to set out his “vision”. As Freedland points out this morning in the Guardian, he has had 13 years to figure out his “vision”, what is his problem?

Guido wonders if Gordon Brown is not only physically vision-impaired but politically vision-impaired as well. He is now reduced to making counterfeit copies of Tory policies. After 100 days he has not shown any vision for change beyond the old tax more, spend more agenda.

Ed & Yvette Profit Handsomely

So who did really well yesterday? Not small businessman, wacked with an 80% hike in capital gains tax when they sell their business at retirement. Alternatively if they work themselves to death dealing with regulatory red tape and hand the business on to their children, Brown and Darling will take, compared to the Tories, an extra £560,000* off the bereaved children. So much for rewarding enterprise.

If you own two homes you just got a handy reduction from 40% to 18% on capital gains. Is it a coincidence that almost all MPs own two homes? The constituency and Westminster home owners already benefit from a tax-free allowance worth £40,000 annually to pay their mortgages. Now they can sell the taxpayer funded second home and only pay the reduced capital gains – a 55% tax cut for MPs.

Mr and Mrs Balls are paid by the taxpayers quarter-of-a-million a year between them, so hard done by are they that they still claim tens of thousands extra in mortgage subsidy on top. Now with the new changes they will be able to sell that second home you paid for and they will pay only 18% tax on it. No wonder they are laughing…

UPDATE : A co-conspirator reminds Guido not to forget the Miliband boys successful efforts to award themselves an IHT tax cut. David Milband is today living in a £ 1.5 million ultra-fashionable-Primrose Hill townhouse at the centre of a complex inheritance-tax avoidance scheme. He shamelessly exploited a loophole which he used to reduce his death duty bills.

When his father Ralph died in 1994 aged 70, leaving a large estate, the Miliband boys agreed a ‘deed of variation’. The cunning move meant that 40% of the equity of the Primrose Hill home was transferred to Ed and David, who were each given a 20% share in the house neatly evading the tax bill.

*Could be an incorrect figure, see the debate in the comments. Guido is not an accountant.

An Apology to Readers

Below you can see that yesterday Guido suggested there had been some kind of policy U-turn on Death Taxes by the ventriloquist’s dummy that is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Guido even illustrated it with a big blue U-turn just to drive the point home.

As the sharper readers have pointed out, it was no such thing. In fact it was just essentially a re-presentation of, what Alastair Darling let slip this morning on the Today programme, was an already scheduled raising of the IHT threshold from £300,000 to £350,000. It additionally removed the necessity for spouses to visit a financial advisor for one aspect of estate planning. There was no new tax cut. It was a U-turn in rhetoric only.

Darling and Brown will still be rubbing their hands every time a middle-class, family-home-owner dies, the uninvited smiling guests at the funeral wake to present the bereaved with a tax bill.

Guido apologises for any confusion caused.

So How Many Schools and Hospitals Will Darling Cut?

Alastair Darling seems to have decided to split the difference between the status quo and the Tory proposals on inheritance tax. A big reversal from last year when he told The Times
“Inheritance tax brings in about £3 billion a year. If you get rid of it, it follows that some other tax has to go up or you have to cut some public spending, on health and education and so on…Ninety per cent of estates don’t pay it, it is paid by 6 per cent, and I don’t think this proposal really has much support across the political spectrum. The Tories and the Liberals have looked at it and backed off from it. It may make for a headline, but I don’t think it makes for a prudent and sensible tax and spend policy.”

Quite a big U-turn by Darling. It is as if he has vicariously brought George Osborne into the “government of all the talents”…

Snouts in Trough : “Do You Know Who I Am?”

So much for equality in the people’s palace. The political class really does have airs and graces:

Access to Services
Before the recess the Speaker approved the Administration Committee’s recommendation that Members should have priority access to services throughout the Commons part of the Parliamentary Estate.

With effect from today, staff and other users should be prepared to give way to Members when queuing for retail and catering services, the post office, travel office or when using other facilities such as lifts, photocopiers, telephone cubicles, etc.

When using parliamentary facilities, please bear in mind whether there is, or is likely to be, a heavy demand from Members and, if so, try to amend your own plans or schedule.

Peter Grant Peterkin
Serjeant at Arms

Sue Harrison
Director of Catering Services

Sith Cancel Scheduled Downing Street Meeting

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope is reporting that the Smith Institute has cancelled the meeting it was having at No. 11 Downing Street and moved it to a different central London location – the British Academy.

He says the Smith Institute refused to say where it originally planned to have the meeting – despite it stating clearly in the original invitation that it was being held “with the kind permission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer”.

Hope has picked up on the use of “Fair” by Gordon yesterday at his press conference in reference to tax, and the seminar’s “Fair Tax” title. Could they somehow be related?

Anti-sleaze campaigner Chris Grayling MP agrees; “It looks like an amazing coincidence that the Smith Institute is riding once again to the rescue in areas where Gordon Brown is having political problems.”

Yesterday the Labour Party Realisedthe New Boss is the Same as the Old Boss

What must have been depressing about yesterday, from the point of view of Labour MPs and activists, wasn’t that they lost the non-election, wasn’t that they had got their hopes up to crush Cameron only to see them dashed, it is the dawning collective self-realisation that nothing has changed with New Labour’s new leader.

Of course Brown’s enemies have always said that, but Labour activists wanted, even believed, that Gordon and his moral compass would change their party’s direction. When Oliver Letwin heckled Brown yesterday in the chamber for “pure spinning” the dejected government benches did not react. Usually there would be growling and baying back at him. Nothing. They knew it was true.

The Lobby, when Brown told the press conference that the polls were not the reason he had bottled it, in the words of Ben Brogan – a journalist well plugged into the Brownies – “no-one in the room believed him”.

The voters, uninterested as they are in the goings on in the Westminster village, were half expecting an election this month, only to see a battered Brown back off. The strong man looks weakened.

Labour activists themselves are starting to feel uncomfortable, the poll lead has melted, the gloss has come off their self-anointed leader and the nagging suspicion must be growing given the blatant bold-faced lying we saw yesterday, that nothing has changed besides the name on the door. He has even started doing that inane grin thing. The new boss is the same as the old boss…

LibDem Woes Surely Demand Tory Silence

Guido is surprised at those two Tory bloggers, Dizzy and Dale, rubbing their LibDem opponents noses into the polls. Surely the best thing for the Tories is to keep silent and hope Ming remains in situ?

Speaking of Tory bloggers, Ed Vaizey promised Iain Dale he would make a blog post every day if Iain publicised him. He broke his promise the same day. How unusual for a politician. He has also managed to cross everything on his blog out. Doh!

+++ EXCLUSIVE +++Tax Policy Emergency : “Call in the Smith Institute”

The non-political charity known as the Smith Institute, which is in no way a front for the Brownies, is having a Downing Street seminar on Wednesday next week.

The subject? “Fair Tax” – which is the political hot-issue of the moment for the Brownies. Is this what Gordon meant this morning when he said he wanted more time to “forensically” take apart Osborne’s proposals?

Judging by the copy of the invitation Guido has obtained, it looks like the Smith Institute is being tasked with developing a political response strategy for dealing with the non-domicile and inheritance tax proposals – Osborne has pushed Brown into uncomfortably defending tax-free billionaires. Something the Brownies would not have been expecting…

No wonder Smith Institute director Wilf Stevenson is inviting people to 11 Downing Street “with the kind permission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer”they need a new tax philosophy and fast.

UPDATE : The respected Institute for Fiscal Studies is distinctly unimpressed at the claim that the event is part of a jointly held seminar series. Bonnie Brimstone the events organiser at the IFS told Guido she had not heard anything about it, Robert Chote the Director of the IFS was more diplomatic, when Guido put it to him that Wilf’s invite said it was a joint seminar he demurred “I wouldn’t describe it that way”.

Rich and Mark’s Monday Morning View

+ READ MORE +



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

George Osborne paraphrases Boris, telling the FT:

“If the ball came loose at the back of the scrum, I wouldn’t fumble it”

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

Jackie Walkercaust Jackie Walkercaust
Jim The Salesman Spotted With Corbyn Jim The Salesman Spotted With Corbyn
Labour Illiterate On Illiteracy Labour Illiterate On Illiteracy
Momentum Mock Injured Soldiers Momentum Mock Injured Soldiers
I SCHEMED A SCHEME I SCHEMED A SCHEME
Watch Glitter Balls Watch Glitter Balls
Did Boris Really Want Brexit? Did Boris Really Want Brexit?
Ken Interviewed, Doesn’t Mention Hitler Ken Interviewed, Doesn’t Mention Hitler
Chuka’s Single Market flip-flop Chuka’s Single Market flip-flop
LABOUR HQ PURGE FEARS LABOUR HQ PURGE FEARS
Carter Ruck Deleting Brooks Newmark Sext Pics Carter Ruck Deleting Brooks Newmark Sext Pics
Mandelson Aide Funding Owen Smith Mandelson Aide Funding Owen Smith
OILY WANTED CORBYN TO GO ON OILY WANTED CORBYN TO GO ON
Hinkley: Forseeable Financial Fiasco Hinkley: Forseeable Financial Fiasco
Baroness Shami(less) Baroness Shami(less)
Just How Totes Posh Is Stella Creasy? Just How Totes Posh Is Stella Creasy?
Thornberry “Sky Sexism” Meltdown Thornberry “Sky Sexism” Meltdown
WATCH HILLARY DROP WATCH HILLARY DROP
PMQs Sketch PMQs Sketch
Vaz Broke Law Vaz Broke Law