DAVID Cameron kickstarted the run-up to what he called “the most important election for a generation” as he launched the Tories’ first campaign poster.
The Prime Minister stood in front of the image of an empty, straight road stretching out through lush green countryside as he addressed Conservatives in Halifax, West Yorkshire.
The poster – with the slogan Let’s Stay on the Road to a Stronger Economy – will appear up and down the country. It states “1.75 million more people in work”, “760,000 more businesses” and “the deficit halved”.
Mr Cameron has previously been criticised for making the final claim, as the deficit has only been reduced by half if measured as a percentage of GDP. In cash terms, the gap between the UK government’s income and outgoings has gone down by around a third.
The Prime Minister said: “I’m here today to launch this great poster and to mark the start of an election year. It is an absolutely vital election for our country and, I think, the most important election in a generation.”
He listed his government’s achievements over the last five years and said: “What is absolutely crucial is to win this forthcoming election because it is so important that we stay on the road to a stronger economy.
“Stay on the road to more jobs, stay on the road to lower taxes, stay on the road to more apprenticeships, stay on the road to stronger schools and stay on the road to security and dignity in old age.”
He said the alternatives to the Conservative plans would be “disastrous” and eradicate the deficit in the next parliament.
But Tory grandee Lord Tebbit said it would be “very difficult” for the Conservatives to win in May unless Ukip implodes.
The former party chairman said: “Mr Cameron swore that he would get immigration, net, down to tens of thousands, so that’s a real problem.
“It makes it difficult for him to persuade people he can control it without a radical change in our relationship with Europe, which Ukip would point out would almost certainly mean leaving the European Union.”
He added: “The likely outcome of the General Election, looking at the polls, will be that the Conservatives will not regain their votes to the level which they should do. It is going to be very difficult to win an overall majority unless, for some reason or another, Ukip implode.”
A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “The Conservative economic plan for the future looks more like the highway to hell for the majority of British voters, as the Tories want to roll back the state to the 1930s.
“Voters know that only the Lib Dems in a stable government can deliver the combination of economic responsibility and social justice Britain needs.”
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