Party activists slam Blair decision on F1 and tobacco ad ban

By Our Parliamentary Correspondent, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 02 October 1998 12:00AM

Tony Blair was accused by Labour activists this week of discrediting the party’s policy on tobacco advertising by trying to exempt Formula One racing from the ad ban.

Tony Blair was accused by Labour activists this week of

discrediting the party’s policy on tobacco advertising by trying to

exempt Formula One racing from the ad ban.



The high level of concern among Labour’s grassroots membership about the

Government’s handling of negotiations over the Europe-wide ban was

revealed in a report to the party’s annual conference in Blackpool.



Ministers sought to pacify party members by saying the directive had

been agreed during Britain’s term in the EU’s rotating presidency this

June. But the activists showed they had not forgotten the Bernie

Ecclestone affair and allegations that Blair watered down Government

policy after meeting the Formula One boss. Ecclestone had donated pounds

1 million to Labour, which was returned to him after the controversy

erupted.



The report, based on discussions of health policy with Labour members

around the country, said tobacco advertising had become an issue of

’particular concern’ because of the row.



One of the many protest motions submitted to the party came from the

Vale of York constituency, which deplored the attempt ’to exclude

tobacco advertising in motor racing from the proposed ban, thus

maintaining the public perception of a link between smoking and sport -

particularly a high-profile sport watched extensively on television by

young people’.



The Labour leadership defended the Government’s actions saying all

sports would be covered by the directive - even though worldwide events

such as Formula One will have longer to give up tobacco sponsorship.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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