Welcome back to the antepenultimate week of campaigning – and the last day on which you can register to vote – before polling day. I’m Claire Phipps with your whip-through of the morning’s election news; Andrew Sparrow picks up the live blog later. Do join us in the comments or on Twitter @Claire_Phipps.
It turns out there was something Theresa May could do to prod her polling lead over Jeremy Corbyn down to single figures, and that something was the manifesto commitment to require older people to fund their own social care from all assets over £100,000. Or, as it’s become more snappily if not cheerily nicknamed, the dementia tax.
Labour leaflets have swiftly sprung up promising to “fight the Tories’ unfair dementia tax”, and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has labelled it “Theresa May’s poll tax”, amid warnings the proposal is unworkable and chatter that the proposal is not playing well on the doorstep – up to now the PM’s safe space.
Lurching to its defence yesterday came foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who said the policy was not set in stone (“I do understand people’s reservations … there will be a consultation on getting it right”); and work and pensions secretary Damian Green, who said it was (“We have set out this policy, which we’re not going to look at again.”). Who to believe? Given that Johnson clearly attended an alternate Conservative launch, with a manifesto that included within its pages the bus-tastic £350m a a week for the NHS – “It is. It is. Theresa May, she said it at the launch of the manifesto,” he burbled yesterday – we can probably place his assurances in the piffle pile.
Boris Johnson sneaks a look at Robert Peston’s questions before his interview. His own party manifesto might have been more useful prep. Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock
With reports that cabinet ministers were not told about the plans much before the ferociously upbeat “you don’t have to sell your house! (until you’re dead)” pre-briefings for the manifesto, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that they’re still a little hazy on it. Certainly, the PM forgot to mention the social care policy in her lengthy Facebook post comparing her own manifesto with Labour’s, “written and shaped by a leader who doesn’t understand – or like – our country”.
Time, surely, to sound the red, white and blue Brexit klaxon. May will be in Wales today, instructing voters that, with talks on Britain’s EU exit due to begin less than a fortnight after the election:
So tricky, isn’t it, when an election just happens to fall right before such a key date?
Brexit also dominated last night’s BBC debate in Scotland, as six party leaders who (mostly) are not standing for Westminster election tussled over what would happen to a country that didn’t vote to leave the EU. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson accused her SNP counterpart of not knowing her place:
But Sturgeon wasn’t engaging in this musical chairs without an adversary, pointing out that Davidson had been a remainer, then a fan of Scotland staying in the single market, before converting enthusiastically to the harder Tory line:
Nicola Sturgeon v Ruth Davidson. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Scottish Labour – wilting in the Scotland-wide polls in third place on 19% – will launch its manifesto today (along with its Welsh counterpart, the Welsh Conservatives, Sinn Féin and the UK Greens, who are heralding a universal basic income).
Jeremy Corbyn has more to trumpet today, too, with an enticement that a Labour government could scrap university fees as early as this autumn, and plans for a £1bn fund to invest in the arts. He previewed this with an appearance at the Wirral Live music festival, opening for the Libertines with a selection of his greatest hits.
Jeremy Corbyn appears at music festival at Tranmere Rovers ground – video
It went better than his appearance on Sky News on Sunday, where some of his older material got an airing. Did he condemn the IRA? After five or so feints, he went with a yes:
It can be hard to keep track of what politicians believed then and now. Take the PM. Only last year, it seems, she was a remainer. But today she’ll praise the vote-leavers of Wales for paying no heed to all those naysayers:
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies did urge a vote to leave. But those who can raid their memories of 2016 might recall some – even quite prominent – Tories on the side of those “hysterical” warning-mongers.
At a glance:
Weekend polling – and a fresh survey this morning – show the Tory lead over Labour is thinning. A telephone poll by Survation for ITV’s Good Morning Britain, published today, puts that lead at nine points: half what it was a week ago. The Conservatives have mislaid five points to 43%, with Labour perking up five to 34%, and the Lib Dems right where they were on 8%.
YouGov for the Sunday Times also pegged the lead at nine points, with Team Theresa May down one point to 44% in the wake of the manifesto, and Labour up three to 35%.
But elsewhere, it was still a double-figure lead. A separate Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday had a 12-point advantage (46% v 34%), as did ORB for the Sunday Telegraph, on the same percentages. An Observer/Opinium poll has it at 13 points: that’s down six for the Tories from last month and up seven for Labour.
The Lib Dems don’t crack double digits in any of them.
Caroline Lucas: guaranteed Green. Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock
- An ostentation of manifestos today: the “Green guarantee” with co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley at 10.30am in London; Kezia Dugdale presents the Scottish Labour version at 11am in Edinburgh; the Welsh Conservatives’ launch in Wrexham follows swiftly after that, guest-starring Theresa May; then it’s Flintshire at 12.30 for Carwyn Jones’ revelation of the Welsh Labour paperwork. Sinn Féin also spells out its plans today.
- Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson are in Hull, the 2017 city of culture, for their arts manifesto.
- At 7pm, Andrew Neil interviews Theresa May on BBC1.
In the Guardian, Gary Younge says Corbyn is now Labour’s best hope for the future:
Herein lies one of the two key problems with the ‘anybody but Corbyn’ brigade. First, they don’t have ‘anybody’. Corbyn’s leadership does come up on the doorstep as a problem – but Owen Smith or Liz Kendall do not come up as solutions. There is no charismatic standard-bearer waiting in the wings. Second, even if they did have a candidate, they do not have an agenda. For a while it wasn’t obvious that Corbyn did either…
The manifesto has had an almost therapeutic effect. Beyond reintroducing basic social democratic policies to the arena, it provides the clearest illustration yet of what the last two traumatic years within the Labour party have been about. This unexpected left turn in the party’s leadership was, it turns out, not about delivering the party to Hamas, but delivering decent public services and a programme for tackling inequality.
In the Times, Libby Purves says the Tory manifesto is right to expect older people to contribute to the care they need:
It’s a bold move, and though tweaks and explanations are needed, a necessary one. Those shouting ‘dementia tax’ – often panicking Conservative candidates – are closing their eyes to two things. One is the reality of an ageing population. The other is that the present low, underpaid standard of home care simply will not do…
If an old person needs home care – let me speak, I’ll be one sooner than many who read this – then for heaven’s sake let the damn house contribute. For my generation it is a piece of accidental, unearned bunce anyway: we just wanted somewhere to live and had no idea it would become a moneybox.
Ukip will slip out its manifesto on Wednesday but leader Paul Nuttall doesn’t seem that concerned about using it as a springboard to power. Pressed yesterday on how much influence a party polling around 2%, standing in far fewer seats than last time, and with little chance of regaining a toehold in Westminster could wield, Nuttall insisted:
You’re clearly electorally switched-on enough to be reading a campaign briefing but just in case:
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