The Tories' new poster: myth and reality

Attack ad falsely claims that Labour is planning to introduce a "death tax".

You might have thought that the disastrous reception the Tories' last poster received would have encouraged the party to take a little more care this time round, but evidently that's not the case.

The Tories' new attack ad takes aim at a proposed £20,000 "death tax" (a phrase annexed from the US right) to pay for the new national care service.

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But there's one hitch: the tax isn't actually a Labour policy. Ministers may or may not adopt the proposal but it's fradulent to claim they already have. As the Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, quite reasonably pointed out:

I'm not currently considering that as a lead option for reform.That figure was used in the green paper last year but I do not believe that a flat levy of that kind would be the right way to go. I can say to you very categorically today that that is not what I am considering.

In the meantime, the Tories should be asked: "How would you fund the expansion of social care?" And here, via Labour Matters, is the inevitable first parody of the poster, reminding you (if you needed to be) of the Tories' regressive plan to slash inheritance tax for the richest 3,000 estates.

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Labour also released a new attack ad last night, questioning David Cameron's claim that the Tories are "the party of the NHS".

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Labour is right to challenge Cameron over his phoneyness rather than his class. Voters are rarely troubled by a politician's background or education (after all, they elected an Old Etonian as Mayor of London), but they despise insincerity.

When focus groups are asked to describe the Tory leader they always mention the car that followed him with his shoes and briefcase as he cycled to work. This early revelation led to the suspicion, never quite abandoned, that Cameron is the sort of politician who will say one thing but do another.

After the 2005 campaign I didn't have high hopes for Labour's posters (remember Michael Howard as Fagin?) but so far I'm pleasantly surprised.

Update: The right don't like the new Tory poster, either. Daniel Finkelstein says it was a "bad idea" and over at Coffee House, Peter Hoskin describes the poster as "disingenuous".

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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