Sunday, 4 January 2015

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

This Conservative campaign poster for the upcoming General Election is already under fire.  Why?  Because, as correctly predicted by my brother, the road in the picture is, in fact, not in Britain at all – but is in Germany, outside Weimar.

Who cares?!  I can't, for the life of me, think why this matters.  Of all the things to get worked up about, is this really the one you would pick?  It's a stock photo of a road, and it could be anywhere in the world – adverts use stock photos.  There isn't really a 'road to recovery' which you can actually drive down at all; it's a metaphor.  The manufactured outrage surrounding this is ludicrous.

What we should be looking at is the claims which the Conservative Party makes on its campaign poster.  One of the boasts they make on 'the road to recovery' is that 'the deficit is halved'.  Is it?  Fraser Nelson described in the Spectator last month why this may not be strictly accurate – and yet people are more interested in foaming at the mouth about the location of the photograph being used in the campaign!  Isn't this akin to seeing a company's advert on television and being more angry about the fact they used actors in the advert than about the possibility they may be making false claims about their product?

In politics, facts matter.  Stock images don't.  The next few months are going to get pretty ridiculous if the criticisms levelled at this Conservative 'road to recovery' poster are indicative of the level of discourse we can expect from the General Election campaign.  Let's stop worrying about these trivialities and instead subject all parties' claims and policies to the kind of proper scrutiny required to make an informed choice about who to vote for in May.

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