Theresa May was described as a “dementia taxing” “lunch snatcher” today, as she launched a Tory manifesto that would see a continuation of damaging policies for ordinary families and increased tax breaks for big business.
Speaking at the manifesto launch in Halifax, Yorkshire – where she was met with protests – May described the Tory plan as “a detailed programme for government, rooted in the hopes and aspirations of ordinary working people across this land”.
Unlike Labour’s “For the many not the few” blueprint, however, the Conservative’s “Forward together” manifesto offered little to working people.
A Theresa May government would scrap free school dinners for five, six and seven-year-olds and replace them with cheaper breakfasts. This would add £650m into school budgets – money the Tories cut to begin with.
May promised that pensioners who have assets of less than £100,000 would not have to pay for their own care. However, at-home care would become means-tested in the same way as residential care, meaning more people would have to pay.
The policy has been dubbed a “dementia tax”, with critics pointing out that social care costs will continue to hit older people of modest means the hardest.
In a further attack on older people the Conservatives would mean-test winter fuel payments for the first time as well as ending the triple lock for pensions.
May said NHS spending “will rise £8bn in real terms” by 2020 – a figure that may have already been allocated and that is considered inadequate by NHS bosses.
Meanwhile large companies will receive an extra boost to their bottom-line, with a promised 17p rate of corporation tax – one of the lowest in the world. There was no mention of whether there will be a national insurance increase.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said, “Millions of pensioners are betrayed by Theresa May’s manifesto. She is hitting older people with a classic Nasty Party triple whammy: Scrapping the triple lock on pensions, removing the Winter Fuel Allowance and forcing those who need social care to pay for it with their homes. The Conservatives’ record is one of broken promises and failure.
“They promised to raise living standards, but working families are set to be on average over £1,400 a year worse off. They promised to improve all standards of NHS care, but A&Es are in crisis. They promised to protect school spending, but schools are facing crippling cuts and class sizes are soaring… While the Labour Party has promised to protect low and middle earners from any tax rises, all Theresa May has promised is a cut to Corporation Tax for their big business friends.”
As well as hinting at attacks on employment rights with a “red tape challenge” and “one-in-two-out” rule, the manifesto also re-stated May’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” Brexit mantra and pledged to leave the EU’s single market and customs union.
In a further sign of May’s determination for an economically unsound “hard” Brexit, she reaffirmed a pledge to reduce migration to the tens of thousands – even though the Tories have for years failed to achieve it and industry has warned such low levels of migration will hurt business.
Protesters outside the launch in Halifax. Pic by Neil Terry
Unite community regional coordinator, John Coan, was one of a group of Unite community members who travelled to Halifax to attend a counter protest against May’s damaging policies (pictured main and above). He said the Tories’ emphasis on migration was an attempt to disguise their own failings as a government.
Coan said, “It’s not migrants that are closing down Huddersfield Royal Infirmary’s A&E just a few miles away from Halifax – that’s the Tories. Nor was it the migrants who cut public services to the bone in Halifax and countless other communities across the country. The Tories are using migration to hide the real issue.
“It’s insulting that Theresa May would come here to sell her leadership when the town’s had years and years of public services being run on a shoe string. It’s also insulting that the Tories are now trying to turn their destruction of the social care system, which has hurt so many people in this area, into advantageous policies.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey warned that Theresa May and the Tory party could not be trusted to do right by working people and their families.
He said, “Theresa May and her Tories should be apologising for the crisis in our public services and the income misery they caused for millions, not threatening the country with more of the same – more cuts, more people struggling, our public services crumbling further into ruin.
“The truth is that life for working people is always tougher under the Tories – and will get worse.
“Theresa May and her Tory party cannot be trusted to do right by working people and their families. For a better, fairer Britain there really is only one option – vote Labour on Thursday 8 June.”