Inheritance Tax – the Moral Maze

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Time to reflect on the Moral Maze.

For those who have not heard it you can hear it here.

I was happy with my own performance - although I spoke too fast, as I often do.

The producer told me as I left the studio that I had won against Melanie Phillips - which I always presumed would be the challenge of the evening. I'll settle for his opinion.

Was it worth doing? Yes. It showed the moral bankruptcy of the Taxpayer's Alliance. Andrew Allum is chroming and affable, but seems to have no clue what a moral argument is. Nor do they understand Inheritance Tax. As a source of misinformation they're wonderful.

Melanie Phillips is extraordinary. It looks like she'll burst in the studio, she's so tense. So tense in fact I was sure she was putting on an act. I even wondered if she really believed a word she was saying and if she regretted departing her days on the Left. But she is the toughest interviewer of those not holding political office on Radio 4 these days, and for all that was rather easy to deal with. Putting the person who pays Inheritance Tax in the role of victim was not a good line for her to adopt.

Claire Fox made the same mistake - suggesting I would allow the children of the wealthy a mere crumb after tax. As I pointed out, £300,000 is no mere crumb unless she lives in a very different world from that I inhabit.

What got me about them both was this absurd argument that Inheritance Tax is about 'providing for your children'. Any reasonable child wants their parents to live into old age, when they might too be at least in middle age. At that point their parents should, in my opinion, have succeeded in ensuring their children are successful in their own right. Isn't it, after all, a definition of good parenting that your children are able to survive without you? Which is precisely why tax needs to be paid to support the parents of the young.

As for Michael Portillo - I am sure he fed me an 'Aunt Sally'. He provided it with a broad smile, and took my agreement with an even bigger one. Much like Michael Buerk did when I took issue with his description of the Soviet Union as an egalitarian society.

Yes it was worth doing. It's worth arguing for justice.

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