Inheritance As A Hot Topic

Here’s one on cultural differences, a topic I’d promised to cover while launching Talk of Many Things (read the introductory post here) but one to which I haven’t done much justice since then.

A few months ago when my sister stepped off the plane from New York and stood in the immigration queue at Heathrow, she was asked by the immigration officer if “inheritance” was how she was planning to support herself during her stay in London. Neither she, I or anyone else in our family have ever been asked about inheritance while entering any of the dozen countries we have traveled to in the past.

At the time, we thought this was a one-off question asked by a one-off immigration officer to a one-off visitor to the United Kingdom.

After reading the headlines over this weekend, I am not so sure.

Last weekend, the Labor party was leading over the Conservatives in the opinion polls by a hefty margin of 11 percentage points. The nation was abuzz with rumors that Gordon Brown (Prime Minister of UK) would announce a snap election this fall. Yesterday came the surprising news that there will be no election this fall, nor one in the next year in all probability. Today’s THE SUNDAY TIMES in London carries the results of a YouGov opinion poll, according to which the Conservatives suddenly lead the Labor party by 3 points – which is a shocking 14 point swing in favor of the Conservative party in just one week.

This drastic change in public opinion is widely attributed to the Conservative party’s showing at its party conference held in Blackpool during the past week. Singled out for mention is its announcement that it would increase the inheritance tax threshold to one million GBP from the present figure of 400,000 GBP.

Just one single announcement – about inheritance – seems to have caused such a wild swing in public opinion.

Which is why I’m now beginning to wonder if the question my sister was asked was not such a one-off question asked by a one-off immigration officer to a one-off visitor to the United Kingdom.

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