Labour will be handed victory by pensioners abandoned by Theresa May, predicts John McDonnell

‘Ten million pensioners are waking up this morning to the fact they could lose their winter fuel allowance,’ Shadow Chancellor says

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Indy Politics

A revolt by angry pensioners abandoned by Theresa May will hand Labour a shock election victory, John McDonnell has predicted.

The Shadow Chancellor condemned Conservative plans to swipe winter fuel payments from most older people – and charge many more for their care – as “sick and sneaky”.

The changes would condemn more pensioners to fuel poverty and even death from the winter cold, triggering a backlash at the ballot box from a group that normally favours the Tories.

“Ten million pensioners are waking up this morning to the fact they could lose their winter fuel allowance,” Mr McDonnell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

 “We are going to win, we are rising in the polls now that people have seen this Tory manifesto.

“I tell you, 10 million pensioners out there will be very angry. Large numbers of young people will be angry because there is no future for them in this manifesto.

“I think we are going to win – we are going to win on the basis of the positive hope we are giving people.”

The Conservatives have refused to say how many pensioners will lose the annual payments of up to £300, to help with winter fuel bills, when they are means-tested.

But it is expected that only the very poorest, those claiming pension credit, will still receive them – which would mean 10 million pensioners losing out.

One third of those eligible to claim pension credit did not do so, because it involves filling in a form – which proved the weakness of means testing, Mr McDonnell said.

“It’s about universalism, that phrase that we are in this together. That’s the basis upon which we’ve created our welfare state,” he added.

Meanwhile, thousands of pensioners who own their properties will have to pay for the care they receive in their own homes, the Prime Minister announced.

She was hitting older voters with a “triple whammy”, when a proposal to scrap the “triple lock” guarantee of rising pension payments was added to the mix, Mr McDonnell claimed.

Pensions will only rise by whichever is the higher of earnings or inflation, after 2020, instead of by at least 2.5 per cent, as under the triple lock supported by Labour.

Nevertheless, despite Mr McDonnell’s bullish prediction – and one poll putting Labour on 34 per cent – the Conservatives retain a double-digit lead.

The Shadow Chancellor also attacked the Conservative manifesto for making no fewer than 60 spending commitments, while saying how only one would be paid for.

It provided a stark contrast with Labour’s prospectus for government, which had “identified funding covering all spending commitments”.

“They have published an 84-page blank cheque that provides a tax giveaway guarantee for big business, while offering a roll of the dice for working families with no commitments to rule out rises in income tax and National Insurance,” Mr McDonnell said.

“Now we can see why Theresa May is running scared of debating Jeremy Corbyn, when she publishes a document like this that contains more questions than answers.

“This is the equivalent of the Prime Minister going to the shops with the nation’s cheque book and not checking the price of the goods as she puts them in the trolley.”