Parties at odds over political posters

Labour and the Tories have clashed over whether poster campaigns by political parties should be banned in the run-up to general elections.

The threat to posters has emerged as a result of the scandal over Labour's secret £600,000 donations from the property developer David Abrahams.

The parties are to reopen talks on a new agreement for political funding, which will mean a big cut in election budgets.

Labour has floated the idea of an outright ban on posters.

Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, said: "At the moment, we and the Tories spend £6 million or £7 million on billboards. We all know they don't really affect the way people vote, so let's do away with them."

But David Cameron, the Tory leader, said: "Billboards are not always expensive. To start saying you can advertise on the internet and in a newspaper but not on a billboard would be ridiculous."

He added that a "tough and tight" cap on election spending would drive down poster budgets.

Although the Government will outline proposals to curb spending shortly, ministers are unlikely to propose a total ban on posters without Tory support. However, all parties are likely to cut their spending on billboards sharply to meet new spending limits.

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