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The archive of Tony Benn has been donated to the British Library under the acceptance in lieu scheme, allowing his family to reduce a substantial inheritance tax bill.

The enormous collection, comprising several hundred thousand documents and recordings and worth over £500,000, has been gifted to the nation.

And in a move that won praise from Conservative MPs for prudent financial management, the donation settled £210,000 in tax.

But then Tony Benn always was very careful with the family money, wasn’t he?

38 thoughts on “Snigger”

  1. “… and worth over £500,000…”

    Or utterly worthless?

    Was there ever a politician as consistently wrong as Tony Benn?

  2. An archive accumulated while being paid as an MP or Cabinet Minister?

    How much of this is private material and how much really public material that he happened to hold?

    Also they have donated this stuff in lieu of paying tax, I wonder how many non-politicians would get away with that?

    I have loads of paperwork in my attic, maybe I should donate that?

  3. It would be interesting to know more about how this notional value was computed. Is there anyone deranged enough to want to pay for what is likely to be either the private papers of a deranged individual or papers taken nefariously during the course of state duties to which he had no legal title?

  4. “Was there ever a politician as consistently wrong as Tony Benn?”.

    He was right about (not) joining the EEC. But probably for the wrong reasons, mind…

  5. The Other Bloke in Italy

    Tony probably wanted to join the USSR.

    Do I remember correctly that the KGB formed a dim view of him?

  6. Was there ever a politician as consistently wrong as Tony Benn?

    He was right about leaving the EU in ’75. Stopped clocks, etc.

  7. I would like to see an independent valuation of this collection; ideally two independent valuations.

    Benn published huge chunks of his diaries, so the ‘best’ bits are already in the public domain. And largely unread.

    Bearing in mind Benn’s insignificance as a minister and political thinker, I can’t see many people leafing through his output now, never mind in 20 years.

  8. Diogenes & MC +1

    Benn’s archive has some value as part of the national historical record. But not £0.5m – more like £5000.

  9. Nothing at all about this on the BBC, the Guardian the Tax Justice Network or Ritchie’s blog. I am shocked!

  10. As a long standing member of The British Library this is a bad deal. It is a large amount of material to take care of and Benn was someone who kept everything down to the weekly groceries bill. I suspect the amount of material of real historic value that is not duplicated in other collections is quite small. Given how limited his importance is it is unlikely to be of much interest except to a handful of specialists in the future. Of course he wanted his place in history but future generations will pay a high price for it.

  11. Was there ever a politician as consistently wrong as Tony Benn?

    Not just wrong, but actively harmful. The 2nd Viscunt Stansgate did more damage to British industry than did the Luftwaffe. q.v. LEO vs ICL as part of his central planning mania of creating single companies in each sector rather than just letting market competition get on with it.

    He also cancelled research projects like Blue Streak, TSR2 and the supersonic upgrade to Harrier, (gifting most of the advances in rocketry to the frogs for Ariane).

  12. He tied up his property in some sort of trust, didn’t he? About £4m worth?

    The Left and tax – they just keep on getting away with it.

  13. I wonder if The Fat One will rage about tax evasion/avoidance on this one. I doubt it.

    Or even include it in his “tax gap”? Remember, that includes any of your income which a future government might consider taxing (no, I’m not joking), but would this qualify?

  14. What Bloke in Wales said plus his backing for the Meriden Co-operative doomed the viable bits of the British motorcycle industry.

  15. FFS C4 News leadstory

    Arran Banks (Leave) and Russia business deal – again

    How about BP remain and Russia business deal?

  16. Pcar, I find TV, MSM and radio news do my blood pressure no good. I now get all my news and opinion from the Web, unashamedly from sites of which I approve.

    Actually there’s some good stuff btl in the Guardian; maybe the pendulum is swinging back to us on the extreme end of the far right.

  17. “The family don’t have an inheritance tax bill, it’s the dead person wot pays the death tax.”
    To be accurate, it’s the estate of the dead person that pays the inheritance tax. But, since the instructions in the will have already given the estate to the inheritor(s) on the death of the previous owner, it’s only the probate process of the government thieving it’s demands preventing them having controlling possession of it. In fact it’s normally possible for there to be a partial release of assets before the probate is completed, as long as sufficient is retained to cover the vultures.

  18. Yeah. An asset gifted to the estate has value if it could be re-sold or if it could earn money.

    So would anyone really pay £0.5m for them? Would anyone pay anything to have a look at them?

    Smacks of cosy establishment.

    And what’s a socialist doing owing that much IHT anyway. Bunch of hypocritical cunts the lot of them.

    Socialists start off jealous, spite, anger and bile filled hypocritical cunts and stay that way or become well off and morph into smug, “different, because reasons” hypocritical cunts.

  19. Is no one going to mention Hillary Benn and the business about his sea-side property in East Anglia. Didn’t it get some sort of favourable treatment on some issue or other? Can anyone remember the details?

  20. A will can only bequeath the balance of the estate after settling debts, it can’t bequeath the pre-settled estate. In essence, the dead person continues to exist as a legal fiction until they are wound up.

    I’m sure somebody once said: the best people to tax are dead people, they can’t complain or vote.

  21. “jgh
    March 5, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    The family don’t have an inheritance tax bill, it’s the dead person wot pays the death tax.”

    Are you saying that if you don’t pay the death tax the government won’t let you die?

    Tax incidence.

  22. “dearieme
    March 6, 2019 at 12:13 am ”

    “The agency is saying: ‘We can’t afford to pay’. We think existing flood defences could be repaired with clay and a shingle ridge. It would cost a couple of hundred thousand pounds.”

    If it was that important to them, why didn’t they get together and take care of it themselves.

    I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but it seems more a ‘we want that money you stole spent on us’ thing than anything else.

    Its what comes from expecting government to do everything for you.

  23. I think that it is sometimes the case that if a group of people are prepared to volunteer or raise money to do something like that themselves, the authorities won’t let them. I once read a book on what was referred to as guerrilla gardening. People would approach the local council offering to gather some volunteers and turn a piece of wasteland into some kind of public garden and find all kinds of obstacles put in their way. The answer was to get the volunteers together and convert the wasteland without telling them. If and when the council noticed the garden they would be powerless to do anything about it without looking like complete c**ts.

  24. All these documents will require storage space and archival curation even if nobody ever looks at them: the BL hasn’t gain half-a-million, it has been lumbered with a cost and liability.

  25. @ Stonyground
    That problem isn’t universal – as with most things it depends on the individual bureaucrat. Our local town council (Conservative-controlled with only a handful of paid employees) latched onto the offer from some volunteers to do some gardening and now more of the grass verges and patches of garden are maintained by volunteers than by the council’s employees.

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