The Labour and Conservative Parties spent half as much on
advertising during last year's general election between them as they did
at the 1997 election.
Accounts submitted to the new Electoral Commission reveal that Labour
spent £5.049 million on ads compared with the Tories' £4.479
million, even though the Tories were trailing badly in the opinion
Tory officials said the party had decided "not to throw good money after
bad", but the figures may also reflect the party's failure to secure
poster sites after the poll moved from May to June.
In 1997, Labour spent an estimated £7.3 million and the Tories
£13.1 million. The big drop reflects new legal limits of £15
million on campaign budgets. 1997 looks certain to prove the high-water
mark for election budgets and, with politicians increasingly sceptical
about the value of ads, party officials believe that future spending
will be in line with the 2001 figures.
Overall, the Tories spent more on last year's campaign - £12.015
million compared with Labour's £11.004 million.