Yet more babbling from Byers

If we at the The Daily had our way, Stephen Byers would be put back in government.  He was a pretty useless minister (except for his nationalising of railtrack without compensation – that was fun), but if he was in government again he wouldn’t be allowed write boring blather like this in today’s Guardian.

Defending yourself against someone as wishy washy as Polly Toynbee can’t be too hard, but Byers struggles.  He rails against critics who say that only 6% of punters pay inheritance tax – “it is a shame that she failed to mention that this has trebled since 1997 when only 2% were liable” – and ends his piece with a classic of third way bluster.  In a similar way to the evangelicals in the US who cite Jesus as a reason for their policies, Byers says: “Last year, social democratic Sweden abolished inheritance tax … They were right, and we should follow their lead.”

As Peter Gustavsson (citing him for the second time today) sets out in his blog, Byers is playing games.  The Social Democrats scrapped IHT as part of a shifty deal with the Swedish CBI – like their messy “reforms” to bring in private schooling, and weaken pension protection for people around retirement age, this is an example of the Swedes not getting it right every time.

It might be worth Giddens, Byers et al finding a better reason for doing the wrong thing than “Sweden does it, so should we”. 

3 Responses to Yet more babbling from Byers

  1. Nick says:

    I particularly like Byers’ argument that IHT does not have a significant effect on the national distribution of wealth. I’m not being funny, but I think it would have an even less significant effect if it was abolished…

  2. Adele says:

    Here, here. His argument does not stand up. Hence he should shut up and get into parliament and vote more.

  3. HenryG says:

    I very much doubt Stephen is gaining such wisdom from his constituents. His North Tyneside constituency has in it some of the most deprived areas in the region, including the infamous Meadow Well estate that was the venue of rioting in the early 90s over the appalling standard of housing and multiple deprivation. It wouldn’t surprise me the only person in the constituency likely to be facing the prospect of paying Inheritance Tax was the MP himself.

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