Tories' 'Pinocchio Blair' campaign

The Conservatives will launch a poster campaign this week portraying Tony Blair as Pinocchio because of his "lie" that the Government would not increase taxes.

The poster features the Prime Minister's nose stretching to the width of the poster, next to the quote: "We have no plans to increase tax at all."

The Tories claim that since the Government came to power in 1997, it has increased taxes by 50%, National Insurance by £8 billion, business tax by £47 billion and carried out a £5 billion a year raid on pensions.

The poster says: "You can help us to stop it growing any bigger."

Shadow chancellor Michael Howard said the Government was "taxing and spending and failing".

He seized on a speech made by the Prime Minister on Friday which conceded that the Government had been too preoccupied with targets - although Mr Blair, in an interview in The Observer, said targets would remain.

Mr Howard told Sunday With Adam Boulton on Sky News: "As we all know, they are taxing and spending and failing.

"They're failing to improve the public services, and what's their response? 'Oh, let's distance ourselves from the targets, let's scrap the targets, pretend that they were never meant to be taken seriously'.

"That is absurd. They will be held to account on them, we will ensure that they are held to account for them, they are failing to improve the public services which is the basic promise they made to the British people.

"It's a great concession of failure on the part of the Government. We don't believe in this massively centralised, bureaucratised approach to the public services. We would have done things completely differently."

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