Posters triumph in election run-up

Labour and the Tories shunned national newspapers as they

concentrated their advertising fire on heavyweight poster campaigns in

the run-up to Thursday's General Election.

Officials in both main parties agreed that the election marked the end

of the press blitzes that have been a feature of recent campaigns.

Labour ran only a token last-minute "reminder" campaign with full-page

ads in The Mirror, The Sun, the Daily Star and The Express, while the

Tories said they had no plans for any press work. The two parties were

outspent on press by both the UK Independence Party and Unison, the

public service union.

At the 1992 election, the Tories spent pounds 1.5 million on press ads

and Labour pounds 1.4 million. At the 1997 election, the figures were

pounds 400,000 and pounds 600,000 respectively.

This year, Labour and Tory officials were hampered by new legal spending

limits, which put a pounds 15 million ceiling on their entire election


But they also judged that press ads would offer poorer value for money

than posters. "The battle is being fought on the streets; we don't think

many people would really notice a press campaign," a senior Labour

source said.

Labour has won the poster war, according to the outdoor specialist


Labour has spent pounds 5 million on poster advertising and the Tories

pounds 4.6 million. Labour has 3,000 sites for the last three weeks

before polling day, while the Tories had 2,500 for the final week


Labour this week cancelled a block booking for the end of September, a

contingency plan unless foot and mouth disease delayed the election

until October. The Tories are trying to offload sites booked for next