I wrote a piece in the Telegraph this morning saying that the Tories should dramatise the scale of the Government’s debt crisis by symbolically dropping their IHT promise.
I said: “Dropping such a high profile policy would have shock value. It would send the vital message that the country is going bust. That would allow the Conservatives more room to level with the public about the truly horrific situation they will inherit."
Predictably, up pops Liam Byrne MP to say: "Even David Cameron's favourite right wing think tank now believes he is wrong to give £200,000 to just 3,000 of the wealthiest estates. It's time the Tories gave up on their plans to cut public services to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy few."
As I pointed out, the IHT cut is to be paid for by a tax on non-doms, who are probably better off than people paying IHT. So this is not about the “wealthy few” in any sense.
In fact it’s not even about the proposed IHT cut, which appears to be hugely popular. The point is that politicians just have to do something to wake the public up to the debt disaster Byrne and co have unleashed. Like the Matrix, Gordon Brown has created a whole alternative reality to try and pull the wool over people’s eyes about what he is doing.
We borrowed £20 billion last month alone – as much as we used to borrow in a year. The Treasury admits it will borrow £715 billion over the next five years. It admits the national debt will have trebled compared to 2006, to £1.5 trillion. All told, Britain is in hock to the tune of just under £3 trillion pounds, or £50,000 per person. The Government has effectievly taken out a second mortgage on the nation.
The Government have destroyed the public finances with little to show for it. They know full well that if they were re-elected they would have to cut public spending by even more than they already propose. This is not about the many versus the few. This is about waking the public up to the disaster Brown has created.
Neil O’Brien is director of Policy Exchange