I was shocked by the prime minister’s announcement that we are to have an early general election and watched the Commons vote on 19 April with incredulity. As a paying member of the Conservative party, I wonder if my party leader has taken utter leave of her senses and with the same rash overconfidence and short-sightedness to disaster is taking us over the top into the Somme. Polls may indicate that Labour is doing poorly currently, but polls can change as the date approaches, as seen in the perilously close Scottish referendum, and the EU referendum itself. The poll weighting calculus may have overcorrected since 2015 and be exaggerating Tory backing now as much as it underreported it then. As Zac Goldsmith’s byelection fate shows, the Conservatives are likely to lose many of their 2015 gains from the Lib Dems – a party who May, at a single stroke, has restored from a defeated irrelevance to a re-energised active anti-Brexit party.
May has torn up the mandate that we already had, the crucial public support won in the referendum and parliamentary support won in the article 50 vote. We have everything to lose. I feel that my membership fees have been squandered on an act of gross folly and I await June with uncertainty and outright dread.
With all this talk about the integrity of manifesto commitments – triple lock on pensions, no tax increases etc – we would do well to remember the 2015 manifestos. The Conservative’s said on P65-66 “Dignity in retirement”: “We will cap charges for residential social care from April 2016.” “For the first time everyone will be protected from unlimited costs if they develop very serious care needs – such as dementia.” As a pensioner paying over £3,000 a month for my wife’s dementia care since June 2014, you can imagine my disgust when, within two weeks of coming to power, the chancellor put this manifesto commitment off till 2020. Is a manifesto commitment a hope or a promise?