A high-profile poster campaign designed to woo past Labour supporters and put to rest claims that the Conservatives are the "nasty party" was derided just hours after its release, after spoofs appeared on the internet.
The Tories were hoping to secure the support of crucial swing voters with its campaign, which focuses on frustration at social breakdown, the economy, and the role of families, features three voters stating, "I had never voted Tory before".
The slogan accompanying one of the doctored posters, featuring an idyllic family around a table, states: "I've never voted Tory before and look how happy I am." Another, displaying a picture of the shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, reads: "I've never studied economics before, but Dave said I need to sort out the economy."
The online imitations posted within the day heaped fresh ridicule on the party's previously flawless public relations campaign, coming as they did after a poster featuring David Cameron with a suspiciously perfect complexion was widely parodied on the internet after the party was accused of airbrushing the image.
Launching the latest poster campaign at an event in Battersea, south London, Mr Cameron said his party had changed and become more inclusive, despite widespread criticism that Tory grassroots remained predominantly white, well-off and resistant to modern Tory commitments on aid spending and climate change.
"This election is too important for people to just go along with voting how they've always done, or how their family has always done," he said. "We've got big problems in this country, and we need to make big changes to solve them – and that's why we're saying to people who have never voted Tory before: 'We are not the same old Conservative Party'." He said there would be more women and ethnic minority candidates for his party at the next election.
*A Labour whip apologised last night for calling Tories "scum-sucking pigs" on Twitter. David Wright, the MP for Telford, was responding to the Tory attempt to win support from voters who had never previously backed the party.
He wrote: "Because you can put lipstick on a scum-sucking pig, but it's still a scum-sucking pig." The Tories denounced the comments as "gutter language".Reuse content