The political parties have rejected pressure from the advertising
industry to agree a new code of conduct for the forthcoming general
Political watchdogs are predicting a 'dirty' and highly personalised
campaign because the parties' ads will not be covered by the industry's
code of practice for the first time since it was introduced.
The Committee on Advertising Practice exempted party ads following the
controversial ban on a Tory ad showing Tony Blair with 'demon eyes' in
the run-up to the 1997 election.
The parties have refused to take up pleas by the industry and the
Committee on Standards in Public Life for them to agree their own code
'There has been no attempt even to talk about it,' a Tory official
The committee called for the newly created Electoral Commission, which
will supervise election spend, to police a new code, but this has been
blocked by the Government, which said the independent commission would
be sucked into party-political disputes.
Although Labour blame the reluctance of the Tories and Liberal Democrats
to agree a code, officials in all three parties believe that it would be
almost impossible to draw one up. They also fear that any attempt to ban
an ad might fall foul of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees freedom
Industry leaders are disappointed that the politicians spurned their
offer of help to draw up a code. Andrew Brown, the chairman of the CAP
and director-general of the Advertising Association, said the business
might now be brought into disrepute. He said: 'I don't see why
politicians should regard themselves as a different, superior species
that don't need regulation. They seem to think everybody else does.'