“Read my lips,” Cameron told voters on Winter Fuel Allowance

During the election, David Cameron reassured voters over the Winter Fuel Allowance by urging them to "read my lips". Just like George HW Bush, Cameron looks set to renege on his promise.

Last night’s Newsnight focused on the row between George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith over expensive changes to the welfare system. Cuts to universal benefits, such as the Winter Fuel Allowance, appear to be the compromise on the table. David Cameron famously referred to Labour literature during the election that warned of these cuts as “lies“. But Sunder Katwala has unearthed another unfortunate turn of phrase used by David Cameron to reassure voters.

Next Left today dig out David Cameron’s eve of election mimic of President George H. W. Bush. On May 4th, referring to pensioner provisions such as the Winter Fuel Allowance, David Cameron told an election rally:

“And let me say very clearly to pensioners if you have a Conservative Government your Winter Fuel Allowance, your bus pass, your Pension Credit, your free TV licence all these things are safe. You can read my lips, that is a promise from my heart. Don’t believe the lies you’re being told by the Labour Party just because they’ve got nothing positive to say.”

As the BBC’s Nick Robinson blogged at the time:

“It’s an unfortunate phrase given its history. George Bush Sr was the first to say “read my lips”. The rest of the sentence was “no new taxes”. It helped him win the presidency in 1988. He went on to raise taxes to reduce the deficit and “read my lips” became shorthand for broken political promises.”

Watch President Bush’s famous remarks:

Labour leadership contender David Miliband has launched a campaign calling for David Cameron to “come clean on Winter Fuel Payments”. You can join the campaign here.

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