'Life on Mars' as Labour poster portrays David Cameron as Gene Hunt

Labour will today portray the Conservatives as intent on throwing Britain back to the darkest parts of the Eighties with a new poster campaign. But rather than reaching for an expensive ad agency, it has instead called on a young party loyalist that would probably have been in nappies around the time in question.

Set to be unveiled in Basildon, the poster shows David Cameron as DCI Gene Hunt – the sexist, foul-mouthed detective from the BBC series Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes – warning his party risks pushing Britain back in time and triggering a repeat of some of the most controversial – and publicly reviled – periods of the Tory reign.

David and Ed Miliband are set to launch the poster in the first of a series of joint brotherly appearances on the Labour election trail. The Milibands will use the poster as a backdrop to claims that to elect a Conservative government would risk repeating some of the mistakes of times gone by, by failing to support the economic recovery and failing to give young people the correct training, jobs and start in life.

The move is part of an overarching strategy that aims to warn of the risks that a Conservative election victory could pose to young people.

It was designed by Jacob Quagliozzi, a 24-year-old Labour supporter from St Albans, Hertfordshire, following a nationwide competition to design the next Labour party election poster.

Having received more than 1,000 submissions for the competition, the party intends to use other "crowdsourced" posters during the election itself, in an attempt to avoid the issues that the Tory party has faced, in hiring a new, expensive, advertising agency late in the campaign.

Mr Quagliozzi said his aim was to "remind the public that David Cameron has failed to change the Conservative party and show the threat they would pose to young people".

David Miliband said: "Ed and I became politically active in the 1980s. Jacob's poster is a powerful reminder of the damage which the Tories did to Britain in the Eighties and the threat which they pose to the country should they win the election."

The sequel to the Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes started its third and final series this week. It has previously used several of the most polarising aspects of the the 1980s as its dramatic backdrops including the Brixton riots, the 1981 Scarman Report into civil unrest and the Falklands War.

A Conservative spokeswoman declined to comment on the advert, saying the party had not yet seen it.

Ed Miliband said: "It's vital at this election that the voice of young people is heard. I hope they will reject a Conservative party that has nothing to offer them and support Labour's future fair for all young people. They are passionate about issues including climate change, safer streets and Britain's future as a hi-tech economy. Labour will continue to listen to young people and deliver real support to help them get on in life."

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