Commons in move to ban election posters

An end to the poster campaigns that have been a major feature of general elections moved a step nearer as 30 MPs called for a ban.

The MPs signed a Commons motion, saying that one answer to the cash crises afflicting political parties would be to outlaw the traditional billboard campaigns. The motion, tabled by the Labour MP John Mann, has been backed by 23 Labour colleagues, five Liberal Democrats and one Plaid Cymru MP.

It said: "This House notes the pressure on political parties to raise money to fight general elections, recognises that a large amount of monies is spent on advertising on billboards, believes that all use of commercial billboards should be banned during elections."

The MPs also called for the £20 million legal spending limit for each party in the 12 months before an election to be reduced, to take account of the proposed poster ban.

The Conservatives may oppose the move, on the grounds that a ban would curb freedom of expression and could therefore breach the European Convention on Human Rights.

Some party officials expect poster campaigns to "wither on the vine" rather than be banned by law.

The parties are increasingly sceptical about the value of nationwide poster blitzes but may want to keep the freedom to run tactical campaigns.

"The one-site campaign still has its uses, one Labour source said.