Fears that the Advertising Standards Authority could be used as a
political football in the run-up to the general election were
exacerbated this week after the Labour Party issued a press release
trumpeting a recent ASA ruling against the Conservative Party.
The ASA has expressed disquiet that its rejection of Tory complaints
about Labour’s ‘same old Tories, same old lies’ poster is being
presented by Labour as an ASA endorsement of its campaign.
The ASA’s action comes amid concern within the Institute of
Practitioners in Advertising that the authority is allowing itself to be
caught in the political crossfire (Campaign, last week).
ASA executives are currently studying the comments of Frank Dobson,
Labour’s environment spokesman, in a press release headed ‘Tories are
liars - official’, in which he welcomes ASA ‘support’.
Dobson said: ‘The ASA is right to say that calling the Tories liars is
unlikely to cause offence, as it is true. We will continue to point this
Caroline Crawford, the ASA’s communications director, commented: ‘We
will be making sure that the parties know exactly what our position is
and that they don’t unwittingly misrepresent our role in political
The ASA provoked controversy by banning the Tory poster depicting Tony
Blair with demonic eyes. Some industry critics believe it has allowed
itself to become embroiled in an area from which it should have kept
Philip Circus, the IPA’s legal affairs director, said: ‘We are very
worried that Labour should so distort the effect of the Code of
Advertising Practice on political advertising. It is a travesty of the