Of course, you all voted Labour, didn’t you? The weird thing is
that if Messrs Saatchi, Bell, Banks and Wight all came out as closet
Labour supporters, it wouldn’t be that huge a shock. Such is the measure
of Tony Blair’s cataclysmic effect on his own party, and the ad
industry’s propensity for shameless tarting. If the Sun can change sides
then anyone can, but surely the Times could have done better than a
feeble ’vote Euro-sceptic’?
Perhaps John Major was not mistaken in believing that Europe was an
issue that might sway voters. But he did think - erroneously - that the
Tories could appeal to the little Englander in us. It might have worked
if it wasn’t for the fact that half of his party, and probably Major
himself, did not believe in the message. It was yet another example of
the four-client scenario - almost the only thing Brian Mawhinney,
Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine and John Major appear to have agreed
upon is that the last three couldn’t stand Mawhinney.
This failure to offer a policy on Europe allowed Labour to look strong
by default. We’ve no idea what Tony Blair’s policy is, but at least
no-one within his party disagreed with him. This is just one of the ways
that allowed the City to countenance a Labour government with a sanguine
air that even five years ago looked impossible.
And it is for a policy on Europe that the advertising and media
industries must look to Blair. The single currency notwithstanding,
cross-media ownership, technological standards, VAT on newspapers and
advertising self-regulation are just four of many issues that will be
increasingly influenced by Brussels as much as Westminster. Britain
might now be seen to influence the formulation of such policies, rather
than sulking about them.
Last week Campaign warned readers to anticipate a less ad-friendly
However, if Blair can offer leadership over Europe, his good deeds there
may more than make up for a wary atmosphere in London.