Was George Osborne listening?

Posted on: 03 February 2010 by Gareth Hargreaves

Details of Conservative spending plans ahead of the election have been a closely guarded secret. Could George Osborne's lack of transparency back fire on the Tories?

Yesterday the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, made the first big announcements as to what the Tories will do if they win the General Election.

Osborne's three big commitments:

  • Abolish the need to buy an annuity at 75!
  • Raise the Inheritance Tax (IHT) threshold to £1 million
  • Raise Stamp Duty level to £250,000

These are welcome changes and vote winners with older and younger electorate alike (although the IHT threshold will only help about 12,000 families at the top level!). Still they are good moves and a step in the right direction.

Abolishing the need to buy an annuity is very welcome and it has been an injustice for many a year with older pensioners reaching 75, being forced to take the annuity and then dying shortly afterwards .Whereas, had they not been obliged to do this, their ‘pension pot’ would have passed to the family as part of their estate.

Well done Mr Osborne, but haven’t we had to wait a long time to hear your plans! David Cameron is a cautious man and not keen to show his hand to Labour for fear of them pinching his ideas but he has left it close to the line to tell us some clear policies his party stand for. So close, that it started to appear that the Tories were as dithering and as indecisive as Labour. I suppose the polls telling him that they were losing their lead over Labour prompted this announcement. Still better late than never!

Give me the Hatchet!

Clare Short had her day in court yesterday at the Chilcot Enquiry and didn’t she make the most of it. Talk about ‘a woman scorned’! Tony Blair was sliced and diced as to his high handed handling of Cabinet process in gaining consent for the Iraq war. It will be interesting to see if the Inquiry will call him back to better explain some of his previous answers – that will make interesting viewing. He looked awkward enough when he sat down earlier this week and started answering questions. To have to come back and validate his answers in the light of other minister’s evidence will be a falling from grace that he will find hard to stomach! For a man whose election gave such faith to people in this country it’s a sad ending. If only he could have resisted the desire to ‘play on the world stage’, he would have been remembered for his successes and not for a war that should never have been started. Many of the newspapers picked up on the fact he wouldn’t say sorry. Frankly what was the point – it certainly wouldn’t have helped the poor soldiers and civilians who died. Let’s hope future ‘leaders of the civilized world’ read the history of the Iraq War before they embark on new initiatives to bring our ’style’ of democracy to other nations!

We were told this was an essential action to protect us and our borders – do you feel safer now – I certainly don’t!

Talk tomorrow

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