In today's Guardian, the Blairite MP Stephen Byers uses Sweden as an argument to abolish inheritance tax. According to Byers, we did so "out of recognition of its fundamental unfairness". He also say, as Blairites often say when they once in a while find somethink they like about Sweden, that "They were right, and we should follow their lead".
Byers' claims are fundamentally untrue. Inheritance tax was abolished after the government promised to do so in negotiations on the conditions for Swedish enterprise in 2003-04. It was a gift to big business with a very limited outcome as the head of Swedish Enterprise Ebba Lindsö was kicked out by hard core neo liberal types who hated Lindsö's drinking coffee and eating pastries with a socialist government. Abolishing the inheritance tax gave us nothing in return exept for little more inequality between the rich and the poor.
An old-time Social Democrat finance minister, Ernst Wigforss, used to say that inheritance tax is about sharing the inheritance between all children of society. By taxing inheritance, we make sure all children can have good schools and good opportunities in life.
I would say that inheritance tax is a true liberal idea - everyone shoulkd have the same chances, no one should be born into richness or poorness. But that kind of liberalism is obviously too left-wing for Stephen Byers MP.