Longleat House - What is the symbolism of the election debate over inheritance tax? See below...
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A Personal Note (Archive)
April 12, 2015
The Conservative Party have decided to make inheritance tax a central issue of the election campaign. This is interesting as inheritance tax was one of the main ways in which modern government became established. Before the beginning of the twentieth century, influential families still wielded considerable local power, even though their influence had been under attack for centuries. Up until this point the pressure had been mainly cultural, expressed through social disapproval towards arranged marriage, and marriage to cousins. But the final downfall came with the introduction of Estate Duty in 1914 by Asquith's government. Added to the loss of advantageous marriages, it was now impossible to pass money in large quantities down the generations. The great estates were finally neutralised, which allowed modern centralised government to take over control of areas once run almost as personal kingdoms. With this in mind, the Conservative's policy is a strangely symbolic one. Relatively little money is actually gathered through inheritance tax - about 0.8% of total tax revenue apparently, but the idea of rolling back such a tax is a powerful symbol of making a stand for individual liberty. In reality of course changes to this tax will not take us back to the world of Downton Abbey. Tax would still be payable on properties over a million pounds, and even that figure would only be relevant to the tax allowance of a couple being put together. So this focus on inheritance tax is really politics by symbolism.
Historical news for April
An exhibition of salted paper prints, one of the earliest forms of photography, is currently being staged at the Tate Britain. Dating back to 1839, the fragility of these prints means very few survive, making this a rare opportunity to experience some of the world's earliest photography. The event runs 25th February - 27th June. For more details go to http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/salt-and-silver-early-photography-1840
Meanwhile in Bradford, at the National Media Museum, the world's oldest photographic society, the Royal Photographic Society will be displaying 200 of its most historic images. The exhibition begins on 20th March, and runs until 21st June. For more information go to http://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/planavisit/exhibitions/drawn-by-light/about
The Tate St Ives is currently staging an exhibition on the development of international photography from the 1920s - 1960s. The exhibition runs until 10th May 2015. For more details go to: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-st-ives/exhibition/modern-lens-international-photography-and-tate-collection
Anniversaries for April
5th April 1621: The Mayflower leaves Plymouth Massachusettes to return to England following its voyage out to the New World.
12th April 1961: Yuri Gargarin becomes the first man to enter outer space, aboard Vostok 3KA-3. His first orbit of earth takes 108 minutes.
17th April 1984: A British police officer, Yvonne Fletcher, is shot and killed by gunfire from the Libyan embassy in London. This leads to an eleven day seige of the embassy and a breakdown in diplomatic relations between Britain and Libya.
18th April 1906: A major earthquake devastates San Francisco. More than 3000 people are killed, and half the city's population is left homeless.
22nd April 1969: Robin Knox-Johnson becomes the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world.
24th April 1990: The Hubble Space Telescope is launched aboard Space Shuttle Discovery. The telescope will go on to record the most detailed visible light images ever, and allow an accurate determination of the expansion of the universe.
30th April 1006: The brightest supernova in history, known as SN 1006, first appears in the sky. Initially it shines ten times more brightly than Venus, and is decribed by observers in Asia, Africa and Europe. North American petroglyphs might also be a recording of the event.
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Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, Derick Fusco, Julian Jones, Richard Jones, Jackie Lewis, Debbie Lowless, Judy Mills of the Corinium Museum, Jane Barron of the World Rugby Museum, and Susan Stuart of Old Spitalfields Market.