Labour and the Tories shunned national newspapers as they
concentrated their advertising fire on heavyweight poster campaigns in
the run-up to Thursday's General Election.
Officials in both main parties agreed that the election marked the end
of the press blitzes that have been a feature of recent campaigns.
Labour ran only a token last-minute "reminder" campaign with full-page
ads in The Mirror, The Sun, the Daily Star and The Express, while the
Tories said they had no plans for any press work. The two parties were
outspent on press by both the UK Independence Party and Unison, the
public service union.
At the 1992 election, the Tories spent pounds 1.5 million on press ads
and Labour pounds 1.4 million. At the 1997 election, the figures were
pounds 400,000 and pounds 600,000 respectively.
This year, Labour and Tory officials were hampered by new legal spending
limits, which put a pounds 15 million ceiling on their entire election
But they also judged that press ads would offer poorer value for money
than posters. "The battle is being fought on the streets; we don't think
many people would really notice a press campaign," a senior Labour
Labour has won the poster war, according to the outdoor specialist
Labour has spent pounds 5 million on poster advertising and the Tories
pounds 4.6 million. Labour has 3,000 sites for the last three weeks
before polling day, while the Tories had 2,500 for the final week
Labour this week cancelled a block booking for the end of September, a
contingency plan unless foot and mouth disease delayed the election
until October. The Tories are trying to offload sites booked for next