- WPA Pool / Getty
Senior Tory campaign insider says Theresa May alienated precisely the voters she most sought to target. The ‘dementia tax’ and police cuts were crucial in costing May her majority. May’s policing record undermined her “strong and stable” message. Voters feared she would abuse a large majority and target them with punitive policies.
LONDON – Theresa May’s ‘dementia tax’ and her record on police cuts were crucial in convincing target Conservative voters that she could not be trusted with their vote, a senior Conservative campaign insider has told Business Insider.
“It completely unnerved the very Brexiteers we called the election for,” the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, in the wake of May’s failure to win an overall majority in the general election.
Under May’s social care plans, people receiving domestic care would have had to pay for it through selling their home after their death, in what was a hugely controversial manifesto announcement.
The issue convinced target Brexit-supporting Tory voters that May would “abuse” the sort of large majority that she had called the election to acquire, the source said. The policy concerned this group of voters that she would later hit them with other punitive policies once she had increased her seats in parliament.
The source added that May’s record on police cuts was another big negative among target Conservative voters.
May, who was Home Secretary for six years before becoming prime minister, came under fire following the London Bridge attacks because of her record on police funding cuts.
In one particularly damaging moment during the campaign, footage emerged of an award-winning Manchester police officer warning May in 2015 that her cuts to local policing in the city risked a terrorist attack.
Watch: Manchester Police officer confronts May
One-time Community Police Officer of the Year, Damian O’Reilly, made a heartfelt appeal to May to reverse cuts to local policing which had caused intelligence about possible attacks to dry up.
“I have worked in inner city Manchester for 15 years,” O’Reilly told May at a Police Federation conference in 2015.
“I felt passionate about what I was doing [but] in 2010 I had to leave. I couldn’t take it any more because the changes that have been imposed have caused community policing to collapse.
“Intelligence has dried up. There aren’t local officers, they don’t know what’s happening. They’re all reactive, there’s no proactive policing locally. That is the reality ma’am.”
He added that: “Neighbourhood policing is critical to dealing with terrorism. We run the risk here of letting communities down, putting officers at risk and ultimately risking national security and I would ask you to seriously consider the budget and the level of cuts over the next five years.”
- Dylan Martinez/WPA Pool/Getty Image
May called the election in order to “strengthen her hand” in Brexit negotiations as well as to target the large numbers of UKIP-leaning voters who had deserted the party after the EU referendum.
However, May’s poorly received manifesto and her record on security, seriously damaged May with precisely this target group of voters, the senior campaign insider told BI.
The issues led to huge voter volatility, putting up to 40 previously bankable Tory battleground seats in doubt.
The comments from inside the campaign comes as the beginnings of a possible challenge against May emerges, following her failed bid for a landslide general election majority.
Senior figures in the Conservative party are already mobilising behind the scenes in favour of possible replacements for May, party sources have told Business Insider.