Ed Miliband’s attempt to show he has a firm grasp of numbers backfired when he failed to sum up his message to voters in eight words.
The slogan the Labour leader chose “a country that works for you, not the privileged few” ran to 10 words, exceeding his budget by a quarter.
The advertising challenge came as Mr Miliband answered questions following a speech in the City of London in which he sought to bolster Labour’s economic credentials by promising a responsible approach to eliminating the deficit and ruled out extra borrowing to pay for manifesto commitments.
Asked for a one-line message to put on a billboard in Piccadilly Circus by Andrew Morley, the chief executive of advertising firm Clear Channel, Mr Miliband responded “how many words do I have?”
Mr Morley told him: “Let’s say eight.”
The Labour leader said “eight?”, then counted on his fingers before deciding: “What I would say is ‘a country that works for you, not the privileged few’.”
He added: “I think that’s what people want to know about this country.
“People want an inclusive country, that is the One Nation vision.
“People want to know that we get the point that we can change the country and we are hearing what people are saying about the way the country needs to change.”
The interview came after Miliband ruled out borrowing more money to pay for his party’s election manifesto commitments as he sought to show voters that Labour could be trusted with the nation’s finances.