Enemies of Harriet Harman – I’m told they exist – will take delight from her slips at PMQs just now.
First there was an Austin Powers moment when she told the House of Commons that the government had helped….wait for it….90 businesses. Amid ripples of laughter, she clarified this to the real figure, 90,000.
Second she referred to UKFI, the arms-length body which controls the nationalised banks, as UKIA.
And was I the only person who picked up on her description of those who will benefit from the Tory inheritance tax cut as the “super-rich“? If this is people whose estate is worth more than £700,000, doesn’t it include lots of Labour MPs?
More seriously the Tories may want to re-examine their IHT policy (lifting the threshold to £1m). A tax cut which looked wildly popular during the boom times does not look so cunning during a recession.
One Labour adviser told me this week that the party was cock-a-hoop at David Cameron’s refusal to drop the pledge (see the Ken Clarke controversy at the weekend). “It’s one of their only firm manifesto commitments and it’s a giveaway to the rich, we are delighted they are holding on to it,” he said.
Given the downturn, the public is likely to agree with Harman’s description of the IHT move as a £2bn tax cut for just 3,000 well-off people – if not actually the super-rich. That wasn’t the case a year ago.