Boris Johnson’s controversial social care plans could hand Labour the next election, Dominic Cummings has warned.
The prime minister’s former chief adviser lashed out at plans to pay for the social care crisis by raising National Insurance as “bad politics and bad policy” – but “good news for Keir Starmer”.
Johnson’s plans would break a manifesto commitment, risking unrest within his Cabinet and on the backbenches. Reports suggested that £5.5 billion more funding has been agreed for NHS shortfalls later this year, including to help clear the backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Former minister Jake Berry, leader of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, warned against a policy which appeared aimed at elderly voters in affluent southern seats.
The Rossendale and Darwen MP said: “It doesn’t really seem to me reasonable that people who are going to work in my own constituency in east Lancashire, probably on lower wages than many other areas of the country, will pay tax to support people to keep hold of their houses in other parts of the country where house prices may be much higher.”
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today that as National Insurance was not paid by people who are retired there was also a question of intergenerational fairness.
“It doesn’t seem fair to me – particularly following this pandemic where so many people have taken great sacrifices to keep people safe, it’s particularly hit the youngest, particularly hit those in work – that we then ask those in work to pay for people to have protection in care.”
Now Cummings has joined an increasingly loud chorus of criticism, writing on his personal blog that the planned National Insurance hike is a “big blunder”.
“A core problem with modern parties is they are (rightly IMO) seen as fundamentally dishonest, incompetent, and out of touch,” he wrote. “A core reason is they constantly make clear promises then break them.
Cummings added: “A core question at the next election would have been: what are the implications for taxes of Labour’s spending plans? The PM’s decision destroys this attack and removes a major fear that could stop people voting Labour — if ‘they’re all the same’ applies to both parties on tax, this is very bad for the Conservative Party.
“And if Labour are smart enough to VOTE AGAINST the PM’s plan, Starmer will be able to shove this down Tory throats even more powerfully.”
‘Feckless Tory rule’
The ex-Vote Leave guru, who has become a stinging criticism of Johnson’s administration since his departure, suggested that raising National Insurance is a “terrible” idea – and “will compound the political problem” facing the Tories.
“Why should young people on average and below average incomes lose disposable income to pay for another subsidy for the older middle classes? This is bad policy and bad politics,” Cummings wrote.
“Labour will have lots of support not just from economists but from Tory voters who don’t want to see those working for average incomes — crushed already by a decade of feckless Tory rule — pay for another middle class subsidy.
“‘Don’t raise taxes at all, save money elsewhere and stop subsidising your rich mates, but, if you have to, impose them on the wealthiest one percent not those on average and below average incomes’ is what Labour should say. Many Tory voters will agree.”
He added: “The best case scenario is simply that Starmer is so bad it’s possible that this, like many previous blunders, won’t matter much.
“But tax is so fundamental an issue that gambling on this is a big gamble. Plus opposing the tax rise is such an open goal even I would be a bit surprised if Starmer kicks it over the bar.”