The Spectator

May’s mistakes

The ‘dementia tax’ U-turn is a clear indication that she needs to reassess her relationship with her cabinet

On the eve of the US presidential election, experts at Princeton university decided that Donald Trump had a 1 per cent chance of being elected. Before the last general election, Populus, the opinion poll firm, gave David Cameron a 0.5 per cent chance of winning a majority. Much is made of the need to look at ‘the data’ when considering political arguments, but so often it is a wildly inaccurate guess with a decimal point at the end to give an aura of scientific specificity. So when we read that Jeremy Corbyn has just a 17 per cent chance of becoming prime minister, this does not mean that the election is in the bag. The Tories are still quite capable of blowing it.

It’s understandable that voters have misgivings about Theresa May. She has retreated from much that was appealing about David Cameron’s conservatism: the social justice agenda, for example, and the education reform that was achieving such good results in non-selective schools. She positioned herself as ‘strong and stable’, only to conduct humiliating U-turns — on her first Budget, and on the so-called ‘dementia tax’ in her manifesto — because she had not thought through the policies. This doesn’t necessarily make her a bad leader, but it does cast doubt over her claim to be steely and resolute.

But she is, alas, quite right to say that the choice in this general election is between a Conservative government and a far-left Labour leader who would do immense damage to this country. Mr Corbyn is weighed down by a history of supporting extremists; his fiscal policies are far to the left of any party which has won an election in Britain since the 1970s. He lost a vote of confidence among his own MPs.

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