It’s still a question of care
One of the noticeable things about this general election for anoraks like me is the way the political parties have decided to spurn the safe ground.
Costed policies and mainstream appeal seem out of fashion. In fact, you sometimes get the impression that courting voter popularity is a bit of an after-thought.
Those who have a vested interest in receiving social care must be having the same thoughts. After all, they believed they were going to be protected, until the Conservative manifesto was published.
It needs to be emphasised that social care is devolved. As such, there are different policies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - but no-one can say whether the Treasury will assume similar eligibility policies to be in effect and work out funding accordingly.
In essence, the key change in approach is that the value of someone's home will get taken into account when means-testing for care at home, in the same way as they currently do for those in a care home. Meanwhile, the amount of savings and property people can retain while still having care costs met increases considerably.
It probably all looked very good on paper but the proverbial hit the fan as charities and pensioner groups voiced fears that the ability to pass their homes down to their children would be lost if the value of their property is taken into account when calculating care costs.
I guessing the final straw was when the media dubbed the proposals the ‘dementia tax’.
Despite yesterday’s Conservative campaign to buy up Google Ad space and intercept internet queries to give their side of the story, it looked likely that some backtracking would happen before the end of the week. As it happens, the u-turn came the same day.
Partisan differences aside however, it’s a pity that it takes an all-out election before politicians start talking in something less than coded terms about the basic underlying issue. That is, how do you reconcile an NHS free at the point of use with social care that comes with a price tag?
Moreover, how do you do it fairly?
‘No show’ means ‘no show’
Whatever the motive involved, I'm delighted that Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn both opted to boycott the televised leader debates.
One of the biggest flaws in our electoral system is the way we insist on confusing constitutional models. In other words, people ignore the fact that the UK does not have an elected head of state.
The broadcast media loves to suggest something else and in doing so, portray itself as the impartial broker of public opinion. Somehow, we’re supposed to ignore the personal and editorial bias that creeps into these tedious proceedings.
Such so-called ‘debates’ reduce party leaders into all-purpose policy spokespersons where presentation is everything.
I can see the appeal of a time-saving device capable of working out all the manifesto policy issues on your behalf - sort of a ‘votingsupermarket.com’ or something.
But sorry and all that, democracy is a participative process. That means you're supposed to do it for yourself.
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