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Editorial: Inheritance tax freeze proves Osborne is not a master strategist after all


Amid the commotion over the Government's stab at solving the vexed question of social care for the elderly, one detail received less prominence than it might have. In order to fund the reforms, the inheritance tax threshold will be frozen at £325,000 until at least 2019.

That, in itself, is of no great moment. Except it was George Osborne's 2007 promise to raise the threshold to £1m that secured the then-shadow Chancellor a reputation as a master strategist that even last year's farrago of Budget U-turns failed to entirely undermine. More significant still, the pledge spooked Gordon Brown into putting off a general election that he would in all likelihood have won, in favour of one, three years later, few doubted he would lose.

The £1m inheritance tax policy thus changed Britain's political history. Now, however, it is to slip away with barely a murmur. A master strategy, then – or just unprincipled expediency?