Tomorrow’s Tory manifesto will contain the boldest policy proposal of this campaign so far. The party will promise to extend the right to buy to 1.3 million families living in housing association properties.
This policy has the potential to create a new group of homeowners and to start the reversal of the decline in home ownership; even critics of the plan think that more than 150,000 families might take advantage of it. It helps to keep alive the idea of a property owning democracy which has been so crucial to the success of the centre-right in this country.
It is worth remembering that the political genius of the right to buy under Thatcher was that it created a new group of Tory voters as well as shifting the centre of political gravity in Britain to the right, making it more hostile to property and wealth taxes. In time, this extension of the policy could do the same.
The extension of the right to buy will be paid for by selling off the most expensive council properties as they fall vacant. Sold off properties will, the Tories say, be replaced on an at least one to one basis; addressing one of the big criticism of the Thatcher-era version of the scheme.
Tomorrow, Cameron will also—according to the Daily Mail’s respected political editor James Chapman—link the tax free allowance to the minimum wage. Cameron will cite these policies when he declares that the Tories are ‘the party of working people’. This is a clear grab for both Labour’s traditional language and political territory. Now, the question is whether these moves can break the current stalemate in the polls.