The list of nominations for our Policy of the Year award was dominated by actual Government policies that have, or are going to be, implemented. But the winner of the award was different, in that there’s some uncertainty about whether it will ever happen, and it’s not a Coalicious undertaking – it’s a Tory one.
The policy in question? David Cameron’s promise to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, following a period of renegotiation, in 2017. It received 36 per cent of the vote, which puts it comfortably ahead of its competitors:
- EU Referendum in 2017: 36 per cent.
- Raising the personal allowance: 22 per cent.
- Same-sex marriage: 17 per cent.
- Fuel duty freeze: 16 per cent.
- Marriage tax break: 4 per cent.
That a referendum is popular with ConservativeHome readers – who also voted James Wharton their Politician of the Year – is little surprise. It will be a major part of Cameron’s pitch to right-leaning voters at the next election. But the question is: how much will it attract left-leaning voters? Will Labour and the Lib Dems be able to shrug off being called the “Anti-People’s Party”? Or will they have to offer a referendum themselves? The answer could go some way to deciding whether this Policy of the Year becomes a Policy for 2017 too.
As for the other policies listed above, the one in second-place is worth noting. Raising the personal income tax allowance – from £9,440 in April this year to £10,000 in April next year – has become one of this Government’s totemic policies. But who will claim the credit? The Lib Dems who included it in their last manifesto? Or the Tory Chancellor who is implementing it, and who will know that its intellectual underpinnings reach back to a 2001 Centre for Policy Studies pamphlet by Maurice Saatchi and Peter Warburton, if not further? ConservativeHome has looked ahead to this potential battle before.
And then there are the two marriage-related policies. Same-sex marriage legislation received 17 per cent of Party members’ support, whereas the marriage tax break received only 4 per cent. Whether that’s because people think the tax break, as it stands, isn’t worth enough, or because they disagree with it more fundamentally, we cannot tell. But it matches other ConservativeHome polls that suggest the policy isn’t supported unequivocally.