I should say immediately that the answer to the question posed in the title of this piece is an emphatic “No”. Oh, all right, that is over the top. The answer is an emphatic “Not Yet”.
The Prime Minister has been extraordinarily foolish. It is always easy to say, after the event, that one would have behaved differently. But I know that I am not making use of hindsight. The second I saw the manifesto pledge to make the elderly pay for their care from their estates after their deaths I thought Mrs May had been very silly. That is not to say that the policy is evil. After all, Mr Corbyn wants to take even more money from the dead than Mrs May does. I just thought it was wholly unnecessary. All she needed to say was that her government would consider all options, that there would be wide ranging consultations etc. etc.
But she chose to take a different path (we now know without consulting any of her cabinet ministers). That was brave. And many admired her for it. My old friend, Charles Moore, became positively orgasmic about the brilliance of the policy. Lots of other journalists raved about how sensible she had been. There would be a storm, but she would weather it.
What actually happened?
Mrs May saw a few headlines saying she was introducing a “dementia tax”. There were two polls which showed a Labour revival. Mrs May, the brave, strong and stable Prime Minister, suddenly changed her mind (again without consulting her colleagues). She back tracked. She said the elderly would not have to pay a great deal for their care after their deaths. The payments would be capped.
Talk about worst of all worlds. Charles Moore and all those other right wing journalists are left with egg on their faces. The Health Secretary (not consulted at any stage) did his best to support his boss’s policy. Now he is a laughing stock for having contradicted the new policy (produced without any reference to him).
This is insanity. OK the policy was not popular. It was stupid to promulgate it. But it could be defended. The damage could be contained. But we now have vastly more damage as a result of Mrs May’s sudden decision to reverse her policy. She appears to her public as being weak and unstable.
All this is even worse for the Conservative Party than it needed to be. Mrs May, despite all my advice, has decided to campaign on the single assertion that SHE is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The Conservative Party and all its cabinet ministers are as nothing compared with their “strong and stable” leader. And now, suddenly, we see that she is a woman of straw. She is neither strong nor stable.
But there is still time to put things right. There is no hope that Mrs May will sack her two advisers (the only people whose advice she is prepared to accept). It is not in her nature to consult any of her elected colleagues. Anyway, they know that their own jobs will be on the line if they ever dare to criticise her two unelected advisers (just ask Michael Gove). But that doesn’t mean it is inevitable that Jeremy Corbyn will be our next Prime Minister. The hope, it seems to me, is that Mrs May’s two advisers will wake up to the damage they are doing to her cause and start giving her vaguely intelligent advice.
And what is so silly is that all this fuss has been brought about by a policy which is almost certainly supported by Labour (a party, particularly under Corbyn, which simply hates the idea of anyone inheriting money from parents).