“If Margaret Thatcher wins on Thursday, I warn you not to be ordinary. I warn you not to be young. I warn you not to fall ill. And I warn you not to grow old” - Neil Kinnock, June 1983.
One thing the Tories know about next month’s general election is that they can depend on the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate to have their back (why? See later in post). So however mean and indeed vicious the manifesto contents, these will be obligingly spun in the style of Nineteen Eighty-Four to soothe concerns, reassure voters, and all the time tell them to “look over there” at those deeply scary Labour people.
So it is with Theresa May’s proposals on social care, briefed ahead of today’s manifesto launch, of which Mrs T may well have approved wholeheartedly - until she, too, got old. There can certainly be no doubt that the current Tory leader approves of what is in today’s launch: she has, after all, introduced it as “My Manifesto”.
And we know that something is not well with that manifesto by looking at today’s front pages. While the Mail, where the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre maintains his embarrassing schoolboy crush on the PM, tells “YOU WON’T HAVE TO SELL HOME TO PAY FOR YOUR CARE”, the Murdoch Sun plays the diversionary “Exclusive: PM Helps Strugglers … RIP TO RIP-OFFS”. But the rest of the press pack is more honest.
Even the Tory-loyalist Telegraph admits “Middle class lose winter fuel payments to fund social care”, while the Guardian is yet more brutally honest: “PM gambles on making elderly pay their way … May’s ‘difficult’ plan would mean loss of benefits and higher social care costs”. The i newspaper tells “Millions of pensioners to lose winter fuel funding”.
The BBC report plays it straight, thus making the revelation that much more damning: “What the Conservatives have proposed for elderly care in England is complex … But in the end it can be summed up quite easily - they want people to pay more towards the cost of their care, but are prepared to wait until you die before taking it from your estate … these plans make sure that whatever sort of care you need, the value of your home can be taken into account”. Leaving the house to your children? Maybe not.
Andrew Dilnot, a former director of the IFS, concluded that the Tories’ approach failed to “tackle the biggest problem of all in social care, which is that at the moment people are faced with a position of no control”. And he had harsh words for The Blue Team: “It’s a bit like saying you can’t insure your house against burning down. If it does burn down then you are completely on your own, you have to pay for all of it until you are down to the last £100,000 of all of your assets and income, so it is just not answering the problem”.
No, Mail hacks, the elderly won’t have to sell up to pay for their care - that pleasure will be left to their dependants. And for anyone who thinks the press is going to hold the Tories to account on this, well, think again. Theresa May’s manifesto also commits the party to repealing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, and cancelling Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry - a part of the Tory programme that could have been dictated by press bosses.
So it is that Ms May will be cheered into office on a tide of Newspeak propaganda, the product of a newly corrupt relationship where We The People will be the eternal losers.