Bruce Forsyth didn't pay any inheritance tax, but he owed society a great debt

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Monday 21 August 2017 19:03 BST
Bruce Foryth with his wife Wilnelia Merced, who has been left his entire £17m fortune
Bruce Foryth with his wife Wilnelia Merced, who has been left his entire £17m fortune (PA)

I originally saw Bruce Forsyth perform at the Babbacombe Theatre in Devon in 1955. Virtually unknown but even then he was a great performer. And he lived in England all his life so he was no tax exile.

So why do I feel so aggrieved that that it has been claimed he is avoiding inheritance tax on his £17m estate by leaving it all to his widow, who will likely dole out on a tax-free basis the sum of £650,000 to each of his 18 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, making a total of £11.7m?

If to be believed, this tax scheme means that Wilnelia Merced will pay no inheritance tax on her husband’s death and, after payment of the said £11.7m, she will still have for herself some £5.3m. The Government will receive nothing on his death despite his known wealth.

It is a perplexing problem. In theory why should I have any quarrel with a person acquiring great wealth as a result of his own enterprise and skills; or disposing of his own wealth in any lawful manner; or favouring his immediate family in his will on his death?

The answer lies in looking at the problem through a different perspective. Bruce did not live in isolation; he was surrounded by fellow human beings. As a showman he needed them more than they needed him. Without them he would have earned nothing. So he owed society generally a big debt.

But instead of repaying this debt on his death, he selfishly gave all his monies to a chosen few. A perfect example of an uncaring capitalist society. No wonder the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Just to remind ourselves of this travesty, in 2016 the richest eight individuals in the world, all men, owned as much wealth as half the world’s population.

David Ashton

Don’t give Isis what they want

With the recent terror attacks on cities, the extent of coverage by the media may need to be considered. One might expect that a terrorist group of any ideology is seeking to increase public exposure of their cause and, as the name implies, bring about a feeling of terror.

Column space and airtime given to these events tends to be very extensive compared to other tragic events occurring at the same time. A good example is the recent coverage given to the attacks in Spain compared to the impact of flooding in South Asia, where hundreds have been killed and millions displaced. There are numerous other examples of this happening now and in the past.

Attacks by extremists are a very important reporting matter. However, a more balanced coverage would highlight other major world events and, at the same time, reduce precisely what extremist groups desire – publicity. One could take the cynical view that the present balance of coverage sells copies, but the question is whether this is the responsible approach.

Raju Sakaria
Address supplied

The NHS is worth more than fake nails and tattoos

My daughter has been a doctor for 11 years. She trained hard and worked long hours to achieve what she has so far. For the last three weeks due to staff shortages and illness she has worked alone, long hours and to the point of exhaustion.

I have just watched a programme about beauty clinics and tattoo parlours. It seems that people don’t bat an eyelid to have their nails done for £75 and tattooists often charge around £100 per hour. A full tattoo sleeve costs can cost around £1500.

My question is, does the public value the beauty therapist and tattooist above the value of my daughter and her colleagues? The argument would be that healthcare should be free to all who can’t afford it. Yet the same people who argue this are happy to spend their money on non-life threatening fripperies. It seems to me that some people have got their priorities completely wrong.

By not valuing my daughter’s time and experience they will soon lose the benefit they feel so entitled to at present. Hopefully someone will find a way to enable nail extensions and tattoos to cure cancer, heart disease and all emergencies plus deliver the next generation of babies.

Until then please protect our wonderful NHS and everyone who works so hard to keep it great. As the old quote warns, “You never miss the water until the well runs dry”. Let’s hope we never have to learn this way.


Science non-fiction

The development of AI-driven “killer robots” seems to be an example of natural stupidity.

The open letter to the UN from 116 tech experts asking for the development to be examined is a start but only a very small first step. Although the Arnie Terminator seems a long way off, the possibility of a computer-controlled killing machine is a worrying development when considered in the light of the truism that, “To err is human, to really foul things up requires a computer”.

Killer robots should be left in the world of science fiction.

Dennis Fitzgerald
Victoria, Australia

Emotional voting

May I suggest a further reason to add to the piece John Rentoul wrote about people changing their minds about Brexit (or Trump): people often vote emotionally.

For example, “Do you like or dislike being European?” or “Is change exciting or scary?”

And change can be what the EU is “forcing upon us”, or someone feeling they don’t like things as they are so they need to be changed.

If you vote emotionally it takes a huge amount of counter evidence to change your mind, especially when there are no hard facts to prove a point.

Derek Thornhill

Trumps days as President will soon be over

With each passing day, there is ample evidence that Trump’s presidency is in a state of rapid decline.

In his last press conference he went off script and voiced his inner demons, sowing discord in a nation yearning for racial harmony and unity.

It is perplexing to understand why he found it so difficult to denounce Nazism.

He falsely asserted there was a moral equivalency between the dark forces of white supremacy and those who oppose such beliefs.

The world must have looked in horror at the neo-Nazi marches in Charlottesville which were reminiscent of the Third Reich marches in Nazi Germany.

It was gratifying to hear five members of Joint Chiefs of Staff condemning race-based extremism. World leaders such as Secretary General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations condemned intolerance and a failure of leadership in the White House.

Corporate leaders voiced their disapproval by exiting from Trump’s White House advisory councils.

With no steady hand to guide the White House, Trump went on the offensive, launching tweets to shoot down “fake news” enemies exposing his appalling ignorance of world events.

Trump was reportedly energised by his Tuesday performance lambasting politically correct forces that he thinks are determined to topple him. He crashed ahead, attacking critics on all sides and delivering Twitter bursts of fake historical nonsense.

Tejinder Uberoi
Los Altos, California

More important things to get ‘ticked off’ about

Politicians getting upset and standing with their heads bowed just because a bell is falling silent? It feels like an overreaction but I suppose it’s a sign of the chimes.

Julian Self

Milton Keynes

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