Prime Minister David Cameron was first off the block as he launched the Conservative party's campaign for the May elections, but a new poster he released was quickly panned for its design and a ‘fib’ that his government had halved the budget deficit since 2010.
The poster, to be splashed on billboards around Britain, has slogans superimposed over a long straight road running through a countryside, which is blended into a union flag, with the message in bold: ‘Let’s stay on the road to a stronger economy’.
The poster then lists the party’s achievements as: ‘1.75 million more people in work. 760,000 more businesses. The deficit halved’. The last claim drew sharp criticism, since the deficit is estimated to have fallen from its peak of 153 billion pounds to 91 billion by the end of 2014-15.
Cameron launches election campaign with a plea to vote SelfServative & stay on the road to a WONGA ECONOMY pic.twitter.com/BYJUTUKSt3— Lord Snoutintrough (@Rowland72James) January 3, 2015
According to Cameron and chancellor George Osborne, the most natural metric is the reduction of deficit as a proportion of GDP, which means that the deficit has fallen from around 10% of GDP to 5% of GDP, as national income has risen.
Since 2010, when it came to power, the Cameron government has been insisting that it inherited a broken economy from the previous Labour government, and that deep funding cuts were necessary to balance the books. Osbore had claimed that the deficit would be wiped out by 2015.
In his campaign launch speech on Friday, Cameron defended the poster, adding that his party had ‘already cut the deficit in half and we have set out clear steps to finish the job by 2018’.
The poster also came in for criticism for presenting what is described as an ‘unreal picture’ of the countryside and a road with no markings. One advertising expert remarked that the scene ‘looks a bit French’.
As commentators mocked the poster for being a ‘little bit creepy’ and telling the ‘porkie’ about halving the budget deficit, senior Labour MP Chris Bryant said it was a ‘bit troubling when the first Tory campaign poster as a fib’.
Wrote commentator Tim Stanley in Tory-leaning The Telegraph: ‘If this is what the Conservatives are going to fight the next election on, they are screwed’.