The received wisdom about Conservative Party members is that they overwhelmingly support a smaller state, tax cuts and less regulation – and are allergic to tax hikes.
This finding may question that assumption – at least as far as a targeted tax rise to help fund the NHS is concerned. Forty-five per cent are opposed to one. But almost as many, 41 per cent, support such a move. This is very close to a split down the middle.
We asked the question because the idea is in the air. Nick Boles wants National Insurance to become National Health Insurance. Jeremy Hunt supports a ringfenced tax of some kind to support the service. David Willetts wants new property and inheritance tax measures to meet health and social care costs.
Perhaps if an idea is advanced forcefully – and by enough senior Tories – it will find an echo from Party members. The best estimate of the latter’s average age is 57, perhaps approaching the point at which one begins to use to NHS more. Maybe this is a factor.
Or it could be that there is a broader change in the Conservative weather about tax hikes. We doubt it – but may be wrong. In the immortal words of academics everywhere: “we need more research”.