Theresa May. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS
Theresa May. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

Britain’s Mirror newspaper described it as "Theresa May’s age-old mistake" and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called it a "tax on dementia".

They were referring to the pledge made in her Conservative Party manifesto to reduce state assistance to those suffering from dementia deemed able to pay for their own care.

According to the pledge, people would have to pay all of their care costs until they got down to their last £100,000 of assets, which they would be allowed to pass on as an inheritance.

The aim was for the conservatives to undermine Labour’s claim that their policies protected the rich.

A week or so after launching the new policy, the prime minister had to backtrack.

The Financial Times observed: "The reversal was a rare unscripted blunder in what previously appeared to be May’s effortless procession towards Number 10."

Election expert Sir David Butler said: "In the 20 general elections I’ve followed, I can’t remember a U-turn on this scale."

The reason for the change of heart: for the first time since she announced the snap election, Labour had gained on the Conservatives.

Ground zero for the poll numbers appeared to be Wales. The Conservatives had enjoyed a 10 point lead there, but after the "dementia tax", Labour had 44% to their 34%.

A national poll by ICM showed that Corbyn — until now deemed unelectable — had closed the gap from 20 points to 14 points in one week.

Survation reduced the Tory lead to single digits with Labour up five points.

But Labour supporters would do well to quell their enthusiasm. The "dementia tax" managed to place Corbyn ahead of the "neither" option for the first time according to another poll.

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