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10 February 2010

The Tories’ new poster: myth and reality

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

By George Eaton

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:

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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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