Tories call halt to COI recruitment ad drive

The Conservative Party is to block the Government's recruitment

campaigns for police and nurses when Tony Blair announces the general

election, expected in June.



Although most advertising by Whitehall departments is halted when an

election is called, non-controversial campaigns such as recruitment work

have continued during previous elections by agreement between the

Government and Opposition.



But the Tories will break with precedent this year by arguing that the

multimillion-pound drives to recruit police officers and nurses should

be scrapped because they are so politically sensitive.



The Tories have renewed claims that ministers had launched a

pre-election advertising 'splurge' after a study by AC Neilsen MMS, the

media monitoring company, showed the Government spent pounds 30.2

million in March, taking its total spend in the first three months of

this year to pounds 62.8 million.



Michael Ancram, the Tory chairman, said: 'Taxpayers will be appalled

that they are being forced to stump up a propaganda stealth tax to pay

for Tony Blair's re-election campaign.'



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