Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Conservative Party's problem...


...capured here:

Most of all, broadly speaking, I think you’d struggle to find many people under the age of 40 who are appalled or outraged or betrayed by this, far less many who really feel insulted or punished. This may reflect my own selection biases of course but, really, I look at today’s Tory papers and wonder where and when these people are living and to whom they think the modern Tory party should be trying to appeal. Because, on the evidence of today’s papers, it sure ain’t middle-class (and metropolitan!) women.

It's not David Cameron's problem or even the parliamentary party's problem, it's a problem of our image, focus and preference. The Party's image and outlook - again this isn't a consequence of policy, ideology or strategy but one of positioning - is designed to sustain it's core. And that core, the 'Conservative Base' if you wish, is over 55, living in the South East and wealthy pockets elsewhere.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of these people. They form the core constituency and customer base for the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, they don't approve of newfanged things like gay marriage and women going out to work, and they make up nearly all of the Conservative Party's 150,000 members (as an aside, when I joined the party in 1976 it had around 2 million members).

The Party has lost the support of two generations of educated young people - the bunch who finished university and started work in the 1990s and the cohort who did likewise in the 2000s. This goes a long way to explaining why the Party got less than 40% of AB voters - its traditional core support - in the 2010 General Election.

Alex Massie is right. It would be a poor do if this was just the response to giving working mums a tax break on childcare. But it isn't - the same goes for almost any policy that might look even the slightest bit socially liberal. Whether it's gay rights or racial discrimination, the knee-jerk of the conservative press - echoed by the 'party faithful' next time they meet their MP - is to say no and gibber about political correctness or traditional values.

Until this changes, the Conservative Party will decline. For sure, vacuuming up the grumpy old man vote might work as a short term strategy but in the long term all it does it annoy the hell out of 30 and 40 something voters. Voters who really don't have a choice but for mum to work - and who will welcome a little tax break on childcare.



Twenty_Rothmans said...

These concessions are just putting more middle-class people into the mindset that they will pay taxes which will be returned to them by the State because the State is pleased with them. This is an attitude that was fostered by Labour when they were in power, and it is a great pity that it cannot be dismantled.

It amounts to being governed by a less uncouth version of the Labour party. If we are going to end up with the same policies, why vote at all?

People are pissed off, Simon. I am sorry to put it so bluntly. I might be a grumpy old man (well, not that old, I graduated in '87) but I think that I have the right to be represented by a party that upholds my principles.

Or don't grumpy old men get a say?

Anonymous said...

"According to the Tory press this insults and punishes mothers who choose to look after their kids at home"

It does, but it wouldn't be a cause of such resentment if they really had allowed stay at home mothers to pass their personal tax allowance to their husbands like they have been promising all these years.


Anonymous said...

Just to jog your memory Simon.

I gave up my career to look after my first child in 1981,a perfectly normal practice at the time, so I was covered under the Married Man's Allowance and then watched it erode over time until I ended up as a non person.

Married Couples Allowance

"When first introduced in 1990 - to replace the married man's allowance when independent taxation was first introduced to give women more independence - the MCA was worth £430 to basic rate taxpayers and £688 to higher rate taxpayers."

"independent taxation was first introduced to give women more independence"

Which was all very nice and respectful, if you weren't a stay at home mother with no source of income.

I endured years of socialism as they tried to fragment the traditional family.

"But all married couples under 65 will be hit by the further restriction in the married couples allowance (MCA) to 10 per cent from April this year which will reduce its value to £197 for each married couple. And they will take a bigger bashing in the year 2000 when the MCA will be abolished altogether for all married couples who are not pensioners"

"The death knell for the married couples allowance and related allowances was signalled by Norman Lamont in 1993 when he restricted the relief to 20 per cent.

Since then it has been hacked away, most recently by the Labour Government which announced in last year's Budget that it would be restricted to 10 per cent.

Married couples 'punished by tax system' - 2009

"Married couples are thousands of pounds worse off than parents who do not live together under the tax and benefits system, according to a report by an influential think tank."

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "The current benefits system has huge inbuilt biases against socially responsible behaviour and the tax system punishes families who try to do the right thing.

"Not only is this situation completely unfair, but it also undermines the creation of a better, more socially just society."

"The Tories are proposing a £1,000 tax break for married couples although there were reports in November that leader David Cameron is rethinking the plans in light of the economic downturn."

So yes, I do sympathise with the mothers who stay at home to bring up their own children,these days they are treated even worse than they probably realise.