Peter Hoskin

The Tories’ new attack poster is Brownite politics at its worst

The Tories' new attack poster is Brownite politics at its worst
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The Tories are keen to hammer the government over the £20,000 "death tax" story which appeared in the Guardian this morning.  And, to that end, they've produced the attack poster above.  According to their press release, it will appear in 18 sites across London tonight.

At first glance, it's a strong image with an equally strong message.  So what's the problem?  Well, only the fact that Andy Burnham this morning denied the death tax claim with the words, "The Guardian story suggests a £20,000 flat levy. I'm not currently considering that as a lead option for reform."  Sure, the Health Secretary has left himself some wiggle room – he could still introduce the levy.  But the fact remains that the death tax isn't current Labour policy.  It may never be.  And it's disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

Now, you could say that this is all part of the rough 'n' tumble of politics; that all political advertising involves some degree of caricature; that Brown and Labour are guilty of plenty of misrepresentations of Tory policy themselves (see Danny Finkelstein here, the poster that Labour released earlier, or pretty much any government statement on the Tories' inheritance tax plans); that you've got to fight fire with fire; and so on and so on.  But it's still dispiriting to see this brand of political communication spreading.