ON Tuesday this week, during a noisy House of Commons exchange between Gordon Brown and David Cameron on the Queen's Speech, the Conservative leader accused the government of stealing Tory policies, especially for a reform of the inheritance tax, saying: Tell me you were planning to reform inheritance tax before our party conference. See if you can look across the dispatch box and say it. The Prime Minister looked across the dispatch box and said: The answer is yes, unequivocally yes. The derisive laughter from the
Conservative benches showed they did not believe him.
Yesterday, however, the Treasury released papers to the Daily Telegraph, which had made a Freedom 0f Information inquiry some time ago, showing conclusively that the Treasury had considered inheritance tax reforms as early as last January and that papers on the subject were passed to the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, on July 27. The ideas under consideration were not identical to those put forward by George Osborne at the Conservative conference but they were similar.
While the inheritance tax issue was important in itself, it is also believed to have been the key factor in swinging the polls from a Labour to a Conservative lead at the moment that Mr Brown was considering whether to call an early election. It will be interesting to see Mr Cameron's reaction to the Daily Telegraph's revelations which appear to show that he was wrong to accuse Labour of stealing this particular policy reform.