Tuesday, May 23, 2017
As Chairman of Britain's oldest conservative think tank, I have seen more than my fair share of policies. I can honestly say the the social care reforms proposed in the Conservative Party manifesto last week is the worst policy I have ever seen.
A policy that threatens the most vulnerable, would have a significant deflationary effect on the housing market and could lead to a recession is a rare breed of disaster.
That is why the Bow Group chose to intervene before the Conservative Party announced it officially. Sadly it was too late, and the policy has completely overshadowed the Conservative Party manifesto launch and tanked the Conservatives in the polls. It won't lose this election, but it could cost upwards of 50 prospective Tory candidates their seats in Parliament.
It's a sad indictment of the way the modern Conservative Party is run that rather than engage with our warning, which was for the good of the Party, the choice was made to send Damian Green onto the Marr show to demean the Bow Group.
We warned that what was being proposed was the largest stealth tax in history, and it is by a country mile. With the average cost of a home in England at £280,000, the proposals exposed the average family to £180,000 in care costs. Costs which were previously capped at £72,000, and costs that the Bow Group's Health Research Fellow Dr Jon Stanley and the Dilnot Commission recommended be capped at £35,000. The over 65s, for whom this policy would hit first, have contributed in tax their entire lives to pay for elderly care, they haven't planned for private health insurance because we have a national health care system for which we pay handsomely. Furthermore it sends out such a perilous message to anyone approaching old age with a home to sell up and spend, spend, spend. It doesn't take an economic genius to work out what that would do to the UK housing market, and in turn our economy.
It is absoultely true that the government needs to be more responsible with spending, but this argument rings rather hollow in relation to social care whilst we are spending £15 billion per annum in international aid.
Why the prosperity of Ethiopian pop bands is a greater priority for a Conservative government than caring for our own senior citizens, I have absolutely no idea. We certainly live in strange times.
However, I will be happily voting Conservative on June 8th. Why? because whilst a bunch of special advisors who have never ventured beyond the M25 might be stupid enough to push this policy, the Parliamentary Conservative Party isn't, at least not those that I speak to, and they aren't going to let a policy through that would toxify the Conservative Party for a generation.
And what is the alternative? It's rather amusing to see the Lib Dems and Labour scrabbling around quoting the Bow Group's warnings of the biggest stealth tax in history. Labour and the Liberal Democrats like nothing more to tax their citizens out of wealth and crash the economy, if I'm concerned about Theresa May's plans to seize my property, I'd be apoplectic about Comrade Corbyn planning my families financial security.
You would think that 2016 would have taught those who wish to govern us that the era of paternal liberalism is over. The Conservative Party will U-turn on this policy, and when the dust settles the Tory high command will have learned what the majority of people in this country already know, we don't want the government stealing our money for something we have already paid for, and clever ideas dreamed up in the salons of Notting Hill are best left there.