Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday 12 September 2005

It's easy to scapegoat unpopular minorities Mr Johnston!

In today's Telegraph there is a very interesting piece by Philip Johnston in which he sets out with admirable clarity just why Inheritance Tax is 'a bad thing'; I agree with almost everything he writes. It is not good for the people who have to pay it, of course, but nor is it really very good for society as it has all sorts of negative consequences to balance against the relatively paltry revenue it raises.

Then he goes and spoils it by taking an utterly gratuitous swipe at gays and lesbians in committed relationships who will soon, if they choose to go through the process of registering their relationship under the soon-to-take-effect Civil Partnerships Act, benefit from the same protection against this iniquitous tax as is currently enjoyed by married couples. This is what I would call the correction of a wrong - I have a number of gay friends who have been in committed relationships for many decades and a few of these couples have already suffered the demise of one of the partners, with difficult financial consequences for the remaining partner. The tax is a bad tax, period. It is bad for long-term couples who currently, until the law takes effect this coming December, have few ways of protecting themselves should one partner die. It is bad for the 'Miss A' that Philip Johnston refers to as well. But no, Mr Johnston chooses to draw his otherwise sensible article toward its final points with a cheap swipe at a group probably disliked by many of his newspaper's readers (specially elderly ones):

"To add insult to injury, the Government has introduced a law that allows a homosexual or lesbian couple to avoid inheritance tax on the death of a partner, but not a son or daughter living in the same house as the deceased parent."

The tax needs to be phased out for everyone, including the son or daughter Johnston refers to.

It is far too easy for newspaper pundits or politicians of a certain kind to appeal to the baser instincts of people. It's really no different than people castigating groups in society for being 'dirty', as currently happens all too often with immigrants and 'travellers' or 'gypsies', illegal or otherwise, and used to happen with people of Jewish faith more than most people would dare to do nowadays. The same goes for the way some people refer to Moslems.

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