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
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
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.