HOLMSEY: Rishi’s sinking ships

By Tilly Walder Nov 24, 2023

Like King Canute, it turns out poor Rishi couldn’t turn the tide after all. I picture him sitting on a beach near Dover, waves lapping at his little feet. His trendy shoes soaked through as he points out to sea, commanding those pesky boats to stop. His trousers remain bone dry of course; that’s why he wears them short, so only his feet get wet.

At over a million people, immigration is at a record high, earlier this month over 700 migrants arrived on our beaches on a single Sunday and the Tories’ ruinously expensive Rwanda plan is in tatters. Why doesn’t Rishi put Wightlink in charge? They’re brilliant at stopping boats!

After doubling down on the idea of cutting immigration sometime in the future, Rishi tried to distract us by going back to the future. There’s no-one of any use in the current parliamentary party, so Rishi went all Dad’s Army, and signed up Sergeant Wilson, AKA ‘Lord Dave of Greensill Capital’. I even feel a tiny bit sorry for Bob, sitting anxiously by the phone in his London home, waiting in vain for No 10 to ring!

Rishi’s next distraction was a hardy perennial, ‘investing’ £8 billion in fixing potholes! If you’ve resolved never to vote Conservative again, perhaps beautifully smooth mainland roads will make you reconsider. But any Islander considering putting their X next to the Seely name will first need to be convinced that some of the magical cash finds its way over here. The Island Tories’ miracle solution, the much-loved PFI, hasn’t worked. Now they’re giving us tons more money for cycle paths. Hurrah said almost no one!

On Wednesday the Tories boldly gave back £21 billion of the £55 billion in tax they took from us last year. I doubt that will save them. We didn’t get the promised reduction in Inheritance Tax. If you’re seriously well off, your kids would appreciate a bit extra when the time comes.

A dear pal of mine died last year. He was a widower, with a beautiful mortgage-free house, a successful business and a ton of cash in the bank. His son, an only child who worked in a mundane mid-income job always knew that when his Dad croaked, he’d enjoy something akin to a lottery win. I saw him last week, and predictably, with Dad’s house now sold, he’s got a fancy new home and a couple of luxury cars. Dad’s business is his too and seems to be thriving under new ownership. It’s amazing what a financial leg-up can do, isn’t it?

I have so many kids that, whatever I leave won’t go very far once they divide it up. That said, although I have no enthusiasm for paying Inheritance Tax, I can’t see why my dependents should get a tax-free lump sum from money I mostly accumulated from decades of rising house prices – like many of my generation. I bought my first house for £35,000 which sold a year later for £50,000. I bought the next for £60,000 which sold for £200,000. The next one cost £210,000 and that recently went for an astonishing £1.6 million! It was a real money pit, fixing it up was ruinously expensive and the money had to come from my taxed income. The total investment, though, including the purchase price, didn’t exceed £300,000. Had I hung on to it, I would have made £1.3 million profit, tax-free. Regrettably, some years ago I did sell it for just over £700,000, in part, because I had an overdue tax demand – arising from all the money I’d spent doing that blasted house up!

If it ever happens, cutting Inheritance Tax would be a vote winner for the well-off – but it’s not really fair, is it?