For me, it wasn’t the “granny tax” or the cut in the 50p tax rate that did it.
I could appreciate the backlash sparked by George Osborne’s decision to strip pensioners of their long-held tax jolly, but I also found it hard to get steamed up. Not all old people are nice and a lot of them are far better off than I am, or will ever be.
There is this popular image of kindly old dears being deprived of their money for winter coal and Murray Mints because of Ungorgeous George’s “harmonisation” of tax thresholds.
The reality is that a significant proportion of this population band enjoy final salary scheme pensions the like of which will be celebrated as the stuff of fiscal legend in a generation’s time.
Old people, it has been pointed out, have been shielded from some of the worst effects of the recession. There is the winter fuel allowance, for example, which has been untouched. The taxpayer funded payments offer a lifeline for pensioners trapped in poverty, but do the silver surfers who embark on month-long golf holidays to the Algarve really need the extra cash?
Roughing up retired folk is a high-risk political strategy, especially when tax concessions are offered to the filthy rich at the same time. It tends to reinforce public perceptions about the Conservatives as the nasty party, the protector of privilege and wealth rather than the defender of meritocratic goals and fairness.
But it wasn’t this that got up my nose.
Nor was it the “cash-for-access” row. As bad as that was, I was prepared to let the storm ride itself out. There’s always a “cash-for-something” ding-dong these days and there always will while lobbyists are at play, massaging egos, including their own, while trousering a tidy sum. It goes with the territory.
The smouldering whiff of something being not quite right will only be extinguished when lobbyists are killed off, and that isn’t going to happen.
The profession is one of the few picking up any new business and its demise would be ugly. Just imagine the lobbying group that would spring up to lobby against the abolition of lobbyists? Frightening.
So, I was ok with the granny tax, a bit narked by the 50p tax rate cut and stunningly unsurprised by revelations about the PM’s previously private dinner arrangements at Downing Street and Chequers.
Then something happened that altered the landscape. It was a murky detail within the “Cam dine with me” row that left me apoplectic.
It has proved to be a game-changer. And it was the Tory old-guard’s use of the dreaded S-word.
Yes, that S-word.
It’s the one that tells you more about a person than any other single word in the lexicon.
Oh, yes. It’s “S” for...
There, I’ve said it.