100 Days until polling day

Today, 100 days before polling day, sees a new poster launched by the Liberal Democrats, offering a straight road between the reckless borrowing offered by Labour and the reckless cuts of the Conservatives.
General Election Poster 270115s

Reinforcing the theme of building a stronger economy in a fairer society, Nick Clegg commented

The Conservatives want to veer off from the sensible economic plan we have set in Coalition, towards much harsher cuts than necessary to public services, especially in education. And Labour want to take us in the direction of reckless borrowing, threatening the economic recovery.

Britain needs a liberal voice in Government, keeping the country on track, and stopping Labour and the Conservatives from lurching to the extremes of left and right.

Liberal Democrats will cut less than the Tories and borrow less than Labour – giving a heart to the Conservatives and a backbone to Labour.

Don’t take the wrong turn. Only the Liberal Democrats can deliver both a stronger economy and a fairer society, creating opportunity for everyone.

This plays on a recent Conservative poster “Let’s stay on the road to a stronger economy”

The Conservative campaign poster to be launched by David Cameron in Yorkshire

which we can, broadly speaking, agree with and take credit for.

Readers may like to offer suggestions in the comments of Labour posters that can be similarly adapted.

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63 Comments

  • Paul in Wokingham 27th Jan '15 - 9:05am

    We can “broadly agree” with the statement “deficit halved”? Then presumably we broadly agree that we can redefine anything in any way we wish for narrow political advantage? The Lib Dem ad shown at the top is anodyne nothingness. If this is the standard we can expect during the election then my already low expectations have just gone down by a quantum step.

  • Paul in Wokingham 27th Jan ’15 – 9:05am

    I think you are being unfair to “anodyne nothingness”.

    We would be better off with “anodyne nothingness”.

    Is the intention to show that the party is almost indistinguishable from the Conservative and Unionist Party?

  • To copy the Tory poster is pretty unforgivable.

  • …….borrow more than the Conservatives, cut more than Labour? Is that a vote winning strategy I wonder?

  • Matt (Bristol) 27th Jan '15 - 9:57am

    I fear that this poster subliminaly tells the world we are wedded to the Coalition’s policies — more-so than the Tories are. If this was to be widely promulgated, it would suggest that we have allowed the 2010 compromise deal to dictate our identity completely; from now on we are Cameron-lite.

    DON’T DO IT.

  • Joe Otten

    I recommend you go to SpecSavers or any good local High Street optician.

    I also recommend that as a PPC you do not go round telling nurses and midwives in your constituency that they have benefited from wage growth as a result of Coalition policies.

  • At least it’s honest – “LibDems – Tories in all but name”

  • Matt (Bristol) – what you have said represents what I was thinking as I wrote my abbreviated comment above.

    Joe Otten – I think you and I both know that IF the bottom half of the income profile are now “feeling better” economically – as the vox pops seem to be suggesting, that is very much down to the Saudi oil pricing policy, not any “long term plan” of Osborne’s Alexander’s etc. It’s no wonder incumbents were rushing to lick the memory of King Abdullah a day or two ago. Instead of trying to claim part of the credit for raising the overall income of the second quartile (as shown by credible reports ) we should be thinking how genuinely we wih to level the playing field for those currently on benefits, and how to deal with the low oil price in terms of climate change policy.

  • @JUF
    At least it’s honest – “LibDems – Tories in all but name”

    Since when has a poster attacking the Tories made us into “Tories”? It’s taking the mickey out of the Conservatives, but because you are probably a Labour or Green supporter, you’ve failed to see the obvious irony of using their own image against them.

    Honestly, I do get fed up with people, most likely supporters of other parties, using Lib Dem Voice posting glib, baseless attacks on our party.

    There’s a word for that kind of commenter, but I won’t use it here. They’re the ones you’re not supposed to feed. Oh dear, I just did.

  • Simon McGrath 27th Jan '15 - 10:43am

    @John Tilley “I also recommend that as a PPC you do not go round telling nurses and midwives in your constituency that they have benefited from wage growth as a result of Coalition policies”

    I imagine Joe will be pointing out to nurses and midwives how much better off they are due to the tax cuts for the lower paid which Lib Dems have been instrumental in obtaining.

  • That’s not an election poster but a lapse into self-parody. ‘Not one thing or the other but somewhere in between. ‘

  • @Simon McGrath
    “I imagine Joe will be pointing out to nurses and midwives how much better off they are due to the tax cuts for the lower paid which Lib Dems have been instrumental in obtaining.”

    Lower paid? Perhaps if you work in the City or you’re a GP then nurses and midwives pay might seem low. They are however, middle-income earners and, as such, have benefited the most from the raising of the income tax threshold. They’ve also had negative real wage growth for several years and an increase in VAT to contend with. However, the lowest paid aren’t any better off as a result of the increase in the threshold and there are a lot more of them about thanks to the realisation of the Tory fantasy of the creation of masses of low-paid workers.

  • Bill le Breton 27th Jan '15 - 10:55am

    Tories always win when the battleground is fear and their message of resistance to change alone has traction. It is not a surprise that ‘caution’ was the watchword of the Masons. Conservatives are masonic.

    Clegg did well in the Manchester debate and does so even now when he is the voice of hope. And of course Liberals love to campaign on hope and radical improvement.

    The above stands a very good chance of being mocked. But what I find most frustrating is that it is like a horse owner putting a thoroughbred into 4 mile chase on boggy ground at Cartmel. Talk about not playing to one’s capabilities.

    Clearly we must use our record in Government but that *can* be expressed in a message of hope and energy.

    Let’s get on to the ground of hope.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Jan '15 - 11:00am

    Good poster. The problem with reckless borrowing is brought into stark relief in the problems with Greece and Lib Dems know the problem of too many cuts.

    Nick is right to keep banging on about this boring message.

    Disagreements respected.

  • Stephen Campbell 27th Jan '15 - 11:03am

    @Simon McGrath: “I imagine Joe will be pointing out to nurses and midwives how much better off they are due to the tax cuts for the lower paid which Lib Dems have been instrumental in obtaining.”

    My wife is a nurse. We are no better off since 2010. In fact, we’re much worse off.

    If a Lib Dem canvasser knocks on our door and tries to tell us we’re better off, we’d probably break out in a fit of laughter.

    As for the advert, well, it says nothing to me. More uninspiring, middle-of-the-road (no pun intended) centrist nonsense.

  • Simon McGrath 27th Jan '15 - 11:14am

    @Steve – you are quite right – nurses are not low paid. Most of them wills till have benefits from our tax cuts though.
    http://www.hospitaldr.co.uk/features/nurses-and-nhs-managers-pay-scales-for-20122013

  • I haven’t been posting for a while. Not been well at all.

    But I am going to have my 2 pence worth today. The minute I saw that campaign poster, I immediately thought of the Tory Campaign Poster . No Matter what Joe and RC say about people like me, (guess what) there are plenty like me.

    And if like me they interpret the poster as symbolizing the closeness of the Tories / Liberal Democrats and the impression is gained that Liberal Democrat HQ is aiming for a 2nd coalition with the Tories.
    Then do not act surprised when people criticize and your votes drop further still

  • Does anyone else remember “Not Left, Not Right but Forward”? Early 1980s, pre-Alliance, I think. It was awful then and, 35 years on, it looks amateurish. If we prod the people organising the election campaign, do they still quiver, or are they brain dead?

  • Stephen Campbell 27th Jan '15 - 11:24am

    @matt: “And if like me they interpret the poster as symbolizing the closeness of the Tories / Liberal Democrats and the impression is gained that Liberal Democrat HQ is aiming for a 2nd coalition with the Tories.
    Then do not act surprised when people criticize and your votes drop further still”

    Well said. Apart from being bland and essentially saying nothing, it gives the impression that the Lib Dems are still wedded to the Tories. It says nothing of what Lib Dem policy is. It’s uninspiring. Some PR-wonk or ad-man probably got paid a lot of money for this rubbish.

    Also, I’d like to add that apart from being given below-inflation pay rises, my wife has also become so stressed and demoralised in her job as a nurse. Thanks mainly in part to the top-down NHS reorganisation (the one we were promised wasn’t going to happen) which is proving to be a disaster, as critics of the act warned you repeatedly.

    The moment Lib Dems voted for the NHS reforms was the exact moment you lost myself and my wife as long-time supporters of this once great, once principled party.

    But I’m sure @RC will reply to call me the “t-word”. Some of you really, really don’t like hearing from the electorate when you’ve let them down, do you?

  • Bill le Breton 27th Jan '15 - 11:44am

    Of course Joe, we are not “post-QE”. There is still £375 billion ‘out there’ because of QE which has not be ‘unwound’, and of course even the hawks on the MPC have not urged for that to start yet.. This is because even they realise that if we did started to take that out of the economy now we’d be in deflation very quickly and before we had high enough interest rates to counter that by reducing them.

    If anything, in 2010, we should have done more QE to offset the announcement of accelerated deficit reduction. That we did not, but chose to allow Mervyn King and the MPC to sit on their hands meant that we stalled the recovery and then had to do another round of QE when stagnation had thoroughly set in.

    I thought you agreed with that.

    Government’s laxness in policing the Bank of England – ensuring it achieved the target set by the new Government, will be seen by history as its greatest calumny.

  • Simon McGrath 27th Jan ’15 – 11:14am

     You provide a link to a website in an attempt to prop up your failing argument.   

    Your link shows the exact opposite of what you are claiming,
    it includes this information —
    “…… nursing and midwifery staff are facing falling real terms pay, with earnings between 6% and 9% lower than if they had kept in line with inflation since 2009. 
    This equates to between £1,048 and £2,824 in lost earnings. ”
    The source for this information is The Royal College of Nursing.

    So you think you know better than Stephen Campbell who is married to a nurse and better than the RCN.

    Is it your ignorance of nurses’ pay or your ignorance of basic arithmetic that is the root cause of your confusion?

  • Simon McGrath 27th Jan '15 - 11:59am

    @John – my point was about how much nurses earn , that Steve was right that they were not low paid.
    How would you have financed pay rises for nurses – more borrowing or more cuts ?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 27th Jan '15 - 12:01pm

    On the better off/worse off argument, I am of the opinion that we should have found money to give lower paid public sector workers a better pay rise, but there is no argument that without us in government, low and middle income earners would be much worse off – £1300 per household per year where two people are working.

  • Given the latest good news in the growth figures, wouldn’t it be wise for Lib Dems to be rightly taking credit for their part in helping deliver that through sound economic policies? Or, as seems to be the case, just leave the Tories to claim all of the credit?

  • Bill le Breton 27th Jan '15 - 12:07pm

    Caron, I don’t think that will work.

    People have never worked in the health service for money alone. For them it is a vocation.

    Many of them today are returning from work each day mentally and physically exhausted and very often in tears with the pressure they are under. And theirs is not the pressure that the rest of us have, for them, they hold lives in their hands.

    I am not sure enough people know enough people who work in our health services.

  • @ Simon McGrath – more growth.
    @Caron – that is a fair point, though it is by no means clear that public sector workers (and indeed many private sector workers, whose income relies partly on the spending of those public sector workers) are better off than they would have been under Labour or a Lab-Lib Dem coalition.

  • The Government also seems intent on cuts to Nurses unsocial hours payments.
    That will have a significant impact on those who have already seen pay freezes..

    I have heard or should say seen comments on facebook from those who work in the nursing profession who say that will be the final straw for them and they will quit the profession.

  • @RC – it’s alright, you don’t need to feed me, I just had a sandwich.

    In point of fact, I voted LD in 1997 and at every election since. So if you have a troll – spotter’s guide you can tick off “disappointed ex – LD supporter”.

  • Matt (Bristol) 27th Jan '15 - 12:21pm

    There is an underling problem here that the coalition is perceived as a Tory government (maybe a mediated Tory government, but still a Tory one), largely pushing Tory policy, that has pulled the country to the right. The Tories like the idea that they are in the driving seat because to say otherwise is a blow to their strong-leadership obsession, but they do in fact want to move further right.

    Meanwhile, the perception is that the LibDems have moved right to adopt the (OK, softened) Tory line. Putting up a poster that uses the imagery of a Tory poster (with the most emotional elements being the green country and the Union Jack – elements of the Tory logo, for goodnees’ sake!) and seeks to defend the coalition’s record even whilst it attacks the Conservative manifesto cements the perception that Clegg likes governming with Cameron and would prefer to continue in his current role of mediating and moderating Tory policy. It undermines its own attempts at equidistance, even were equidistance a good thing, which I don’t necessarily agree with in the first place.

    It says, ‘we don’t like the things the Tories say they will do, but we like being in government with them. Vote LibDem for more LibDem-Tory coalition’.

    Now, imagine the same poster with a different road (maybe a black and white, urban road) without the union jack. And with more orange. It’s a LibDem poster, it’s distinctive, it says visually ‘we’re different from both the other parties’, which this one doesn’t.

  • Matt (Bristol) 27th Jan '15 - 12:22pm

    I meant’underlying problem’ … but maybe it IS an ‘underling’ problem!!!

  • Simon McGrath, your exact words were (anyone can scroll up and read them) —

    Simon McGrath 27th Jan ’15 – 10:43am
    “…….pointing out to nurses and midwives how much better off they are …”

    Nurses and midwives are clearly not  “much better off”.    They are worse off and the link that you  provided underlines that fact.

    It also includes the pay bands which start as follows — 

    Agenda for Change pay bands for NHS nurses and managers effective from 1 April 2014:
    Band 1: £14,294 – £15,013
    Band 2: £14,294 – £17,425
    Typical job roles for this band: Clinical support worker nursing
    Band 3: £16,271 – £19,268
    Clinical support worker nursing (higher level), porter team leader.
    Band 4: £18,838 – £22,016
    Nurse associate practitioner acute, finance team leader, general office manager, admin team leader.
    Band 5: £21,388 – £27,901
    Nurse, midwife (entry level), theatre nurse, business administrative manager, catering manager, clinical coding officer/team leader, finance team manager, health records section manager.

  • David Howell 27th Jan '15 - 12:35pm

    So clearly the LibDem message is to be in the middle of the road.

    Tell me . . . what often happens to people who stand in the middle of a road? . . . particularly it seems, if it’s in Wales.

  • TechnicalEphemera 27th Jan '15 - 12:36pm

    A fairly comprehensive analysis showing how the Lib Dem government has hurt the poor to provide for the better off.

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/27/poorest-hit-hardest-coalition-changes-report

    Which rather suggests the choice of Tory branding for the campaign is appropriate.

  • Nick Collins 27th Jan '15 - 12:41pm

    Bob Hope (Cameron) and Bing Crosby (Clegg) starring in yet another “Road” movie. Theme song “We’re off on the road to … (where exactly?)”.

  • It looks less like a campaign poster than a visual illustration of your dire strategic position. It contains two, contradictory messages neither of which are very attractive to voters. The first message is that you are a mini-me Tory party without the gumption to even come up with your own graphics. The second message is that you are an independent party that exists to prevent the Tories creating a stronger economy and Labour from creating a fairer one. Wouldn’t it be better to make a case for liberalism?

  • Nick Collins 27th Jan '15 - 1:02pm

    Why does the poster feature the name of a UKIP MP?

  • Ruth Bright 27th Jan '15 - 1:17pm

    Sorry to lower the tone but like any political addict I am simply enjoying the “100 days” election coverage. Paddy Ashdown at his most patronising worst/best on the Daily Politics and Kay Burley on Sky telling us that Cardiff Central is a seat of great affluence and “crippling depravity”!!!!

  • Tony Greaves 27th Jan '15 - 1:20pm

    It’s the dreadful old slogan from the Liberal Party in the 1950s and the SDP in the 1980s. “Not left not right but forward!” There are times when I am glad I do not have a vote in the General Election.

    Tony Greavesd

  • Ruth Bright

    I’ve been watching Sky News too & couldn’t help wondering how the IFS figures displayed on the screen fits with the poster above.

    According to the IFS Cons plans are for £33bn cuts & £0 borrowing, Labs plans are for £5bn cuts & £25bn borrowing whilst LD plans are for £8bn cuts & £26bn borrowing !

    There is no reason at all for those left of centre undecided between LD/Lab to vote LD because, according to the IFS figures, they will cut more than Labour & borrow more than them too.

  • Hi MartinB,

    On the figures you are right but the Lib Dem poster didn’t say Labour would borrow more than it the Lib Dems, the poster said that Labour would borrow recklessly. The poster makes no reference to who would cut\borrow more or less.

  • Good grief Dan, don’t be so naive !

    Clegg has just this second been on Sky News saying:

    “We, the Liberal Democrats, will cut less than the Conservatives,borrow less than Labour because that’s the way that we think you get the right balance & create a stronger economy and a fairer society”

    Quoted verbatim.

  • Fine but we can both agree that when Cleggs says “We, the Liberal Democrats, will cut less than the Conservatives” he is right.

  • MartinB

    Thank you for quoting Clegg verbatim. Any idea what the words might mean?

    Does Clegg have any idea what the words mean? Or is he leaving it to Danny Alexander to explain?

    How exactly does this approach “create a stronger economy” ? Stronger than what?

  • Julian Critchley 27th Jan '15 - 2:56pm

    “We’re not them, but we’re not them either!”

    Great message. That’ll have those voters rolling back.

    Still far too many people in the LibDems in absolute denial about what is coming in 100 days. The whole parliamentary party will fit into a single mini-bus. A shame. There was such potential here, before Clegg et al decided that what British politics REALLY needed was a third Thatcherite party trying to find insubstantial points of difference with the other two slightly nastier or slightly less nasty Thatcherite parties.

    “We’re not them, but we’re not them either! We’re both of them combined !”

    Great.

  • David Allen 27th Jan '15 - 3:45pm

    “Since when has a poster attacking the Tories made us into “Tories”?”

    This poster does not present the Lib Dems as carbon copies of the Tories. It presents the Lib Dems as blood brothers to the Tories. A party which is travelling the same road, but which has some important contributions to make on some of the key decisions. Like, where to pause for a picnic.

    The imagery perfectly illustrates the Lib Dem position as (almost literally!) fellow travellers with the Tories. No doubt that is why it was chosen. No doubt the branding experts who helped to design it will have explained it in those terms when justifying their large fees.

    Those who want austerity-lite, and who believe that the Lib Dems can actually achieve any litening, are those who Clegg wants on board. The rest are not wanted, even though that means fewer Lib Dem seats. Clegg’s priority is to make himself valued by his Conservative allies. Those allies would rather have a few tame Lib Dems whose loyalty they can rely upon, than a larger number of Lib Dems who might make trouble or even (saints preserve us) ally with someone else.

  • Bill Chapman 27th Jan '15 - 4:25pm

    This poster is really, really bad. This poster would simply serve to remind people how the Liberal Democrats propped up the the Conservatives. A disaster.

  • Tony Dawson 27th Jan '15 - 4:43pm

    @Ruth Bright:

    ” Kay Burley on Sky telling us that Cardiff Central is a seat of great affluence and “crippling depravity”!!!!”

    Sounds exactly like my ward, which has both the greatest concentration of wealth and the greatest concentration of deprivation in the Borough, separated by a couple of miles.

    I presume this ‘ad’ is not serious, just a playful skit on the original which took less than 20 minutes.

  • This poster sums the Lib Dems up. Not quite as fiscally irresponsible as Labour but profligate all the same. Not quite as harsh and uncaring as the Tories, but having stood cheek by jowl with them for the last four years PRETTY harsh and uncaring.

    Doesn’t it set your pulses racing? What a vision for the country! No wonder your activists are so energised and enthused! Hurrah for the Liberal Democrats! Bliss is it this dawn to be alive, but to be young is very heaven…

    None of the establishment parties are equipped to deal with the scope and scale of our nations’ problems. ALL of our major politicians have failed us, and the next election will really demonstrate that in spades, sadly.

    But of all of them, you, the Liberal Democrats seem the smallest, the least significant.

    I’m sorry but it has to be said.

  • Jenny Barnes 27th Jan '15 - 5:21pm

    I would pay for higher wages at the bottom end by taxing the rich. Not by cuts or borrowing. As road fuel prices are well down on peak, that would include 10p /litre increase on road fuel tax. In line with green policy stance.

  • David Faggiani 27th Jan '15 - 5:23pm

    Yep, I tend to agree with Bill Chapman!

    I’m not sure if we, or the public, are ready for this level of electoral post-modernism and referentiality in campaign poster design…..

  • David Faggiani 27th Jan '15 - 5:25pm

    Liberal Democrats – the MOR Party. Classic Rock (and a hard place)

  • Peter Watson 27th Jan '15 - 5:51pm

    Strangely it looks like the Lib Dems have copied the Tories but manipulated the image to smooth out the bumps in the road ahead which now appears to be a dead end.
    Is there a political metaphor there?

  • Leaving aside the picture content of this — what do the words mean

    When Clegg tells the media — “….cut less than the Conservatives,borrow less than Labour because that’s the way that we think you get the right balance & create a stronger economy…”
    How does that work?

    How does Clegg’s formula translate not a stronger economy? Has he just repeated the slogan so many times now that the words have no meaning?
    Is there an evidence that economies strengthen as a direct result of repeting these words?

  • @Peter Watson
    lol
    You’ve just made me re-examine the posters, so the Con one shows a valley at the end and they will take the middle ground route. But as the Lib Dems have vandalised the landscape and filled in the valley, they can only crash or veer sharply left or right.
    So not very green and not really certain which path to take, voters will be flocking to the cause.

  • eduardo goncalves 28th Jan '15 - 7:47am

    This rather reminds me of the old SWP catch-phrase “Neither Washington nor Moscow but International Socialism”! Except it’s not nearly as titillating. Feels much more like the SDP question in the 1987 election: “caught between the Red Devil and the Deep Blue C?” – which was an abject failure of a slogan.

    The problem with these “we’re slightly less bad than the others” message is that it neither inspires your supporters to go and vote, nor does it motivate switch voters. It’s just bland rubbish.

    Come on chaps – up your game for goodness sake!

  • This sort of referential image manipulation stuff belongs on the social media campaign, being shared on political blogs and facebook. It isn’t good enough to be a campaign poster. Some suggestions have been made in this thread that might have helped, the one about making the poster feature an urban road that actually goes somewhere was the best idea for if we really want to campaign by referencing other people’s campaigns.

    Other than that, the general feeling that the message is barely worth sending is correct. We need to be putting across the idea that voting for liberal candidates will deliver a better government than voting for green, conservative, labour or nationalist ones would. Although perhaps that’s a campaign message for 2020…

  • The middle of the road is where hedgehogs get squashed. Bet we wish we hadn’t voted for a fixed term Parliament. The good old British public are bored to death already.

  • But it’s the same blummin poster with some tweaks and is clearly designed to show continuity with the Conservative one.

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