The papers: Death of the 'death tax'

Entrance to the Conservative Party conference Image copyright Getty Images

Party political conferences, once somewhere where ideas and direction were mulled over, are now increasingly where policies are unveiled.

As all papers report, the Conservatives will be unveiling one of their big ideas at their conference later, when George Osborne announces the impending demise of the so-called "death tax" - the 55% duty paid on the undrawn pensions of the deceased.

The new duty is expected to be 20% on the pension pots of those dying aged over 75, while all such tax for those who die before reaching 75 will be scrapped. Widows and Widowers and children under 23 inheriting pension drawdowns already do not pay the tax.

The move, the Daily Telegraph tells us, will "allow hundreds of thousands of elderly people to leave more money to their loved ones after they die."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption George Osborne

The paper adds: "In what will be seen as a pitch to the 'grey vote' before the May election, Mr Osborne will pledge that those who have 'worked and saved all their lives will be able to pass on their hard-earned pensions to their families tax free'."

The Times says the latest move is part of a drive to put "workers and savers at the heart of the Conservatives' tax-cutting election campaign".

The Guardian says the chancellor's announcement "will try to calm the shredded nerves of Conservative activists" who it says are "haunted" by the threat that more of the party's MPs might follow Mark Reckless and join UKIP.

The resignation as a minister of Brooks Newmark, the Tory MP for Braintree, also heightened a need to "lift the party's mood", the paper expands.

"Older voters - normally the mainstay of the Conservative vote - have been flocking to UKIP, forcing Osborne to look at the tax cuts he can offer to lure them back as part of wider pensions changes.

"Osborne's focus on completing his pensions revolution raises the prospect that he will revive the party's abandoned pledge to raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1m going into the next election," it adds.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mark Reckless was unveiled on Saturday as the second sitting Tory MP to join UKIP

The Sun is one of many that notes David Cameron's latest efforts to woo Tory eurosceptics and halt the UKIP advance.

It says, "David Cameron has toughened his stance on EU membership — hinting he would not recommend Britain remains if he fails to get the reforms he wants.

"He told BBC's Andrew Marr show yesterday 'If I thought it wasn't in Britain's interests to be in the EU I wouldn't argue for us to be in it'."

The Independent's leader column cautions Mr Cameron against a "rightward shift" in his party.

"If he believes that aping the anti-European, little Englander mentality of UKIP is the royal route back in to power, he is grossly deluded.

"It will be a one-way ticket to the wilderness," the paper thunders.


One politician who is spending his party's conference keeping the lowest of profiles is Brooks Newmark, the US-born multi-millionaire who stepped down from his position as minister for civil society after the Sunday Mirror told how he had sent a picture showing his genitalia to a Twitter follower.

Unhappily for married father-of-five Mr Newmark, the follower was not the attractive 26-year-old female Conservative activist he thought, but an unnamed (male) freelance reporter who passed the story on to the paper.

Image caption MP Mark Pritchard is to raise whether public interest was served by the Sunday Mirror's story

Several of Monday's papers ponder over whether this deception amounted to entrapment.

Roy Greenslade writing in the Guardian says, "the sting does raise questions about newspaper ethics".

The reporter had sent flattering tweets to various male Tory MPs using an account under the name of Sophie Whittam, and using a picture of a Swedish model as an avatar.

Greenslade says this appears to be "a fishing expedition" and the former press watchdog, the PCC, ruled "that 'fishing expeditions' where newspapers employ subterfuge and use clandestine devices without sufficient justification are unacceptable."

The columnist - a former Daily Mirror editor - says his sources say that the paper's executives had considered whether there was "sufficient public interest" to publish the scoop, deciding that there was because of Mr Newmark's work on a campaign designed to get more women into politics.

Elsewhere in the paper, Zoe Williams argues that the case needn't have led Mr Newmark to step down.

Claiming that politics today is "more prurient than in the 1950s", she says, "we've reached a point with politicians and their sexual morality that is so abstruse, so distant from the real codes we live by, that the result is a kind of moralising arms race : if in doubt, take the dimmest possible view.

"In what other job would a person who'd had an affair have to resign? Where else is sexual conduct considered anybody's business but that of the parties involved?" she asks.

Image caption IPSO was formed in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry

David Aaronovitch in the Times takes a similar tack.

"What Newmark did was not shameful so much as it was ridiculous. And ridiculous is - in our private affairs - what most of us are at some time or another," he says.

In its news pages, Mark Pritchard - another Tory MP who was sent flirtatious texts from the "Sophie" account - said that he would be raising the matter with the new newspaper regulator Ipso.

"The Sunday Mirror has serious questions to answer over its evidence gathering techniques and attempts at entrapment and I will be raising a formal complaint with Ipso. What if I had invited her out on a date, which I didn't? So what, I'm single," he tells the Times.

The Daily Mirror does not explicitly defend its Sunday twin, but it does run a column by Julia Hartley-Brewer condemning Mr Newmark.

"When a minister, paid by taxpayers, sends explicit photos to a complete stranger... then he has chosen to make his privates a public matter.

"If Brooks Newmark was dumb enough to text his post-watershed selfie, how can we trust his judgment in his working life? And how open is he to blackmail?

"And once he has lied to his wife, what stops him from lying to us, the voters he has not met?" she argues.

'A sham'

The protests for greater democracy in Hong Kong have been going on for months, but now the scale of the demonstrations has propelled the story onto the front pages of some UK newspapers.

The Daily Telegraph says the former colony has been "paralysed" by demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Protest organisers say that at least 80,000 people took part in Sunday's pro-democracy demonstration

"In the angriest protests seen since Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, squads of police attempting to disperse the crowds with volley after volley of tear gas succeeded only in shifting the protest to other areas of the city centre and galvanising its participants," the paper reports.

It calls the pro-democracy movement the "first major challenge to the rule of Xi Jinping", China's latest head of state.

The Guardian says the campaign aims to halt what it sees as efforts to limit Hong Kong's ability to chose a new leader, which has been promised to the city by 2017.

"Beijing has promised universal suffrage for the next chief executive election in 2017. But the framework it announced is so restrictive that it would effectively bar any democrat from standing - the two or three candidates will be vetted by a nominating committee composed largely of Beijing loyalists.

"Critics have called the arrangement a sham and an exercise in Iranian-style democracy," the paper explains.

It adds that rumours swept around the demonstration that the authorities would send in the army and use "Beijing rules, not Hong Kong rules", but as yet only police have been involved.

The Times notes the "tumultuous scenes" could cripple Hong Kong's commerce" and the island's "most powerful tycoons" have spoken out against the protest movement.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Xi Jinping

In a sidebar, it raises the possibility that the tear gas used by the authorities against the crowd was manufactured in Britain.

The claims highlight the "potentially controversial consequences of the coalition government's promotion of British arms exports," the paper says.

The Independent says the protests are likely to continue.

It quotes publisher Jimmy Lai who says, "The more Hong Kong citizens come, the more unlikely the police can clear up the place.

"Even if we get beaten up, we cannot fight back. We will win this war with love and peace."

In its opinion section the paper says the demonstrations show that Hong Kong has "grown up".

Of the demonstrators it says, "their courage is remarkable. Their aims are entirely just and valid.

"Hong Kong today is China tomorrow, with its affluent, culturally sophisticated and highly educated population.

"Beijing's leaders would do well to listen to them."


One of Monday's stories will probably bring a smile from all but Americans reading - Europe's victory in the Ryder Cup.

The Daily Express notes Wales's Jamie Donaldson sealed the victory when at four up with four holes to play "his approach shot landed within inches of the flag".

As his US opponent Keegan Bradley conceded the game, Donaldson's "fiancee Kathryn Tagg rushed to embrace the Ryder Cup debutant."

In the sport pages, John Dillon reminds us that 38-year-old Donaldson was advised by his doctors 10 years ago to give up golf due to a back problem.

"I was frightened to step off a kerb in case I jarred it," the player said of the time, but he has fought his way back into contention.

Dillon singles out the high morale of Europe's golfers, led by captain Paul McGinley, as decisive.

"It is eight wins out of 10 now for Europe.

"McGinley's players will have drunk gallons of champagne from the trophy. It never seems to lose its taste," he adds.

The Daily Star said the triumphant Europeans - who it dubs "easy Ryders" - enjoyed an "all-night booze-up.

It notes Sir Alex Ferguson, whose participation in the "booze-up" is uncomfirmed, was also at Gleneagles, and he gave the players "a stirring speech".

The vanquished US side was bowed, but philosophical, the Times says.

Captain Tom Watson is quoted as saying, "The bottom line is they kicked our butt."

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