Blair pledges to cap parties’ annual ad budgets

Tony Blair will curb multi-million pound party political advertising campaigns if he becomes prime minister, in a move that could prevent the Tories repeating their current anti-Labour blitz.

Tony Blair will curb multi-million pound party political

advertising campaigns if he becomes prime minister, in a move that could

prevent the Tories repeating their current anti-Labour blitz.



The Labour leader intends to bring in legislation to limit spending by

political parties in the run-up to a general election to between pounds

8 million and pounds 10 million. At present, spending by individual

candidates is limited by law once an election is called but there is no

limit on national campaign budgets. The Tories are believed to have a

pounds 20 million ’war chest’ for this year’s election.



Blair believes the sheer weight of M&C Saatchi’s ’New Labour. New

Danger’ attack means American-style campaigning may become the norm in

Britain.



He is concerned that parties would then be under pressure to raise funds

from people and groups who would demand favours in return for donations,

with the danger of corrupting the political system.



’The current Tory campaign is unprecedented in British politics,’ a

close aide to the Labour leader said this week. ’Tony Blair does not

want us to go down the American route. He is very strongly committed to

a clean-up of politics.’



Blair is said to be suspicious about the sources of funding for the Tory

campaign, in which he was personally targeted last summer in the ’demon

eyes’ advertising.



The Conservatives are expected to oppose Labour’s plans, which they see

as a backdoor attempt at preventing them outspending Labour in future

elections, and they insist the parties should retain their freedom to

spend the money they raise.



The new law planned by Labour would also force parties to publish the

sources of their donations and bring in state funding for the parties.



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