Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tieless Cameron Is the Tories' Poster Boy for Election Battle; Close-Up Portrait of Party Leader Echoes Blair's 1997 Campaign

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tieless Cameron Is the Tories' Poster Boy for Election Battle; Close-Up Portrait of Party Leader Echoes Blair's 1997 Campaign

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy, Political Editor

DAVID CAMERON echoed Tony Blair's tactics today by putting his own image at the core of the Conservative general election campaign.

A poster dominated by a close-up photograph of the Tory leader will go up on 1,000 sites across the country to launch the Tory sprint towards the finish line. The tieless portrait of a seriousfaced Mr Cameron was coupled with a personal pledge to protect real-terms spending on the health service, under the wording: "We can't go on like this. I'll cut the deficit, not the NHS."

It was the most graphic evidence yet that senior Conservatives see their young leader as their biggest electoral asset -- and it will court accusations that the Tories have become a one-man band in which other shadow cabinet members are pushed to one side.

Health spokesman Andrew Lansley took part in today's launch of the first chapter in the draft Conservative manifesto in central London but he does not feature on the poster.

Other shadow cabinet members were taking part in simultaneous launches across the country. It marked the opening skirmish of the election, countered by a Labour event in which Chancellor Alistair Darling claimed to have unearthed a [pounds sterling]60 billion black hole in the Tory spending plans.

Ironically, Mr Darling's attack lifted tactics straight from the Conservatives' successful 1992 election campaign -- the last election to have been won by a sitting government against the backdrop of a recession and the campaign where a young Mr Cameron cut his teeth. In that contest, former Treasury minister David Mellor made similar claims about Labour's figures.

Today's list of Tory policies on the NHS included a promise of higher health funding for some of London's poorest areas.

Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Hammersmith, Newham and Hackney were all on an "indicative list" of districts that would benefit from a new policy of targeting money at the least well-off places where the chances of surviving cancer and other illnesses are rated as the lowest. …

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