I saw this advert and it frankly made my blood boil because it showed that the Conservatives still want to outright lie and misinform the electorate. As such, I thought I would analyse their various claims and indicate why I think that the claim is wrong to make, even the ones that are technically correct.
Here’s the offending poster, which I have annotated to indicate where I think they lose marks for honesty:
All kinds of lies and deceptions.
Biggest ever increase to the National Living Wage
This is one of those “technically true but deeply deceptive” claims. Yes, this might well be the largest increase to the National Living Wage, but it conveniently ignores the fact that the National Living Wage is a relatively new feature brought in within the life of the Conservative premiership of the UK, meaning no other parties have had any impact on the National Living Wage. So this is essentially a statement that this year they have uplifted this minimum more than they themselves did in previous years. The fact that this is their headline, their best statement, is genuinely telling – it’s utterly meaningless.
On top of that, the increase might be the largest in terms of pounds and pence, but as we all know there is a cost of living crisis going on at the moment, exacerbated by Conservative mismanagement of the economy for the last 12 years. As such, this “increase” represents a real-terms decrease due to the ravages of inflation.
Fact check conclusion: not quite a bald-faced lie, but highly dishonest to claim this as a positive for their party.
£11bn extra funding for the NHS and schools
Again, technically true, but highly misleading. The NHS for example has a budget of some £170bn a year, so increasing this by some £3bn represents a pretty meagre 1.8% increase in the NHS budget, far below inflation (that again, the Conservatives have had a large hand in exacerbating if not causing). In essence, this is a stealthy way to slash their budget rather than support it.
Fact check conclusion: again, not quite a bald-faced lie, but definitely completely dishonest to ignore the impact of inflation and 12 years of Conservative budget cuts.
Helping every household with their energy bills
This one really made my blood boil because this is both a lie and a denial that Labour and before them the Liberal Democrats were calling for help with the energy bills funded by a windfall tax on the profits of energy companies. Again, this is technically true in some respects, but it deliberately hides the fact that the Conservatives initially did nothing, then introduced a scheme whereby taxpayers would defer, not reduce, the amount they owed for energy (with no indication of where this would ultimately be paid from), then finally scrambled to work out how to offer that support in a fiscally responsible way.
Finally, this is not a plan for the economy. It is a cost to help mitigate their woeful management of our energy infrastructure over the last 12 years. Ultimately this is an entirely vacuous claim that should make whoever drafted it hang their head in shame and leave politics forever.
Fact check conclusion: Utter, utter lies.
Protecting the triple lock
Considering there is only one government which suspended the triple lock (the Conservatives) and since they refused point-blank to confirm that they would support this until Hunt’s Autumn Statement, this genuinely is a baffling inclusion to this document, as it only serves to highlight how indecisive the Conservative leadership has been over the last year. As far as I am aware, the triple lock was under threat from no other parties.
Fact check conclusion: No idea why they would include such a self-burn in this poster.
Labour has no plan for the economy
This definitely falls into the “outright lie” category, as Labour has been arguing for things like a windfall tax for most of this year, a sovereign wealth fund to reduce our reliance on foreign-sourced energy and funding their plans from taxes on the wealthiest people and companies in the UK. I don’t agree with everything they propose, but they certainly had a fully-costed manifesto going into the 2019 election and they have continued to amend their position in light of changing circumstances.
It seems that this is a very lazy alternative to actually criticising their policies, i.e. pretending that they just don’t exist.
Fact check conclusion: This is without question one of the biggest outright lies on the poster, and frankly it is utterly pathetic to see.
Only the Conservatives have a plan for a stronger economy
Following on from the last point, this is just heinous levels of dishonesty. If the argument is that they cannot see any plans for a stronger economy from any party, then I can only conclude that the author of the poster has not read any manifestos from any other parties, has no idea that there is no historic evidence that Conservatives do better with the economy than anyone else, and should not be allowed anywhere near informed political discourse again.
For the record, both the Liberal Democrats as a party and I personally have manifestos which specifically include plans to unlock the great potential of the UK economy. Every party does, with the possible exception of the Conservatives, as their plans were announced on 23 September 2022, unwound over the next month, then completely amended by the new government. If this is a plan, then I am a fish.
Fact check conclusion: Desperate lie from someone that presumably thinks it would be clever to ignore alternative plans rather than address them.
Frankly this entire poster is nonsense. The only truly factual thing the authors managed to include was the name of their political party; the rest is either outright lies or a very dishonest interpretation of facts. Anyone sharing this should be ashamed of themselves, they are part of the reason why the electorate thinks that they can tell that politicians are lying because their lips are moving.
When Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, his speech included a commitment to bringing back integrity in politics. Everything else aside, this poster is an indication that these words were nothing but hot air.