Comment: Tories' hard line could isolate them on care
When interested parties sit down at Andy Burnham’s “care consensus”
conference, most likely to be this Friday, the Tories’ absence will send out
a dangerously negative message about there stance on a pivotal electoral
Eighteen charities wrote
to The Times yesterday imploring politicians to end the squabbling and
point-scoring, and the criticism was, for the most part, aimed at the
“We are in danger of seeing this most important of debates become reduced to
election soundbites and poster slogans,” they wrote, emphasising that all
must engage in a serious debate.
They will be at the talks table this week, as will local government
representatives and the social care directors – who have offered fierce
criticism of some of Labour’s more slapdash calculations on free home care
for those with critical needs. So will Norman Lamb for the Liberal
Democrats. As things stand, the one empty chair will be that of Andrew
Such isolation will send out as negative a message as the advertising campaign
warning people of the likelihood of a Labour “death tax”. As Mr Burnham and
Mr Lamb have both pointed out, in the clearest show of consensus so far, the
debate on the best funding options had yet to close. These were proposals
under discussion – alongside other funding formulae involving state and
insurance contributions – and should remain so.
That Mr Lansley has now vowed publicly not to attend unless the inheritance
levy is removed seems mighty strange for someone who was the insitigator of
behind-the-scenes talks between the three party spokesman.
He was aware months ago that the levy was a funding option, yet sought
consensus. Now, overnight, his position has changed — or been changed by
Tory high command — and he is left frozen out of the debate he was so keen
to engineer. As Mr Lamb observes, he is “not being straight” on how the
matter was being discussed privately by the three men.
The positioning is damaging for the Conservatives and unfortunate for Mr
Lansley. His claims that the gravestone billboard posters “was not a
negative campaign” is plain wrong, and all know it.
His absence from the consensus conference will only underline this further,
and enhance the impression for key stakeholders on care and the wider public
that the party is now not prepared to enter sensible discussions on this
most important of policy issues.
Includes 3* accommodation throughout, a 15 minute Apollo night helicopter flight down the Las Vegas strip and United Airlines flights from Heathrow.
Same break by air costs £189. Valid for weekend travel until 31 Aug 10.