DIARY: Thanks to Maurice, the Tories can take credit for police ads success

Anybody noticed how muted the Tories have become in their criticism of the ad drive to recruit more police officers?

The "could you?" ad campaign is one of the most ubiquitous on TV with women and people from ethnic minorities now the prime targets of the Home Office's initiative to get more bobbies on the beat.

It was all very different in 2002 when the Tory Party was crowing that the M&C Saatchi campaign had been a flop and claimed that it had succeeded in attracting a measly 400 wannabe coppers.

Not so, the agency said at the time. And it seems to have been proved right. New official figures show that at the end of August last year there were 136,386 police officers in England and Wales, 9,000 more than when Labour came to power in 1997.

But, as Harold Wilson famously observed, a week - let alone a couple of years - is a long time in politics. Back then, Maurice Saatchi wasn't the chairman of the Conservative Party with a brief to make them voter-friendly again.

So has the police campaign been a misuse of taxpayers' money in a blatant attempt to bolster the Government's reputation? Or has it been a brilliant operation leading to a safer Britain and masterminded by an agency whose founding partner is leading the Tories to a new dawn? Depends what spin you want to put on it.


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