Philip Whiteley's Blog

December 7, 2009

Brown is wrong on Eton, but …

Filed under: Uncategorized — felipewh @ 11:37 am

Gordon Brown’s swipe at the Opposition Leader David Cameron on 3rd December for supposedly developing policy ‘on the playing fields of Eton’ is ugly class war, but this shouldn’t make Cameron’s policies on inheritance, tax, business and opportunity exempt from debate. Since he became leader, Cameron has made it a priority to lessen the taxation of inheritance. Is this consistent with being a party that favours enterprise? Surely start-up businesses, training and employment should be priorities for tax reduction. This taps into a long-established theme in the UK that careers, work and ‘trade’ are ugly, and that it is better to inherit. I explore this theme in Meet the New Boss. The following is an excerpt: “This Victorian attitude that it is better to inherit money than to earn it remains deeply ingrained. Through inheritance, wealth appears effortless, while the term ‘trade’ retains a pejorative tag. Secretly, most British people want to inherit money, rather than have to work for it … In autumn 2007, the Conservative Party in the UK promised to slash inheritance tax. Panicking, the Labour Government imitated their move. … “Certain pastimes that were considered to be pursuits for gentlemen (and white gentlemen, at that), and continued their amateur status in cricket until 1962 and until 1995 in the case of Rugby Union – a sport founded on the principle ‘if they can’t pay, they can’t play’. In cricket, as recently as the 1950s you had to be both white and a wealthy amateur to captain England or the West Indies. Far from venerating duty and professionalism, the culture was to look down upon such dedication and to regard ‘professionals’ as lower class.”


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