Senior Conservatives expect the party to part company with M&C
Saatchi following a series of bruising battles between Maurice Saatchi
and the Tory chairman, Brian Mawhinney, during the general election
Tory sources suggest Mawhinney will advise his successor as chairman not
to reappoint M&C Saatchi for the next general election. ’Maurice is a
prima donna,’ claimed one source. ’If Mawhinney is asked for his
recommendations by his successor, his first one will be that we should
never again use M&C Saatchi.’
Tories accused Saatchi of being a ’bad loser’ after a string of
hard-hitting ads about Tony Blair - including one bearing the words
’phoney Tony’ and another reviving the ’demon eyes’ - were rejected by
Mawhinney because the Prime Minister, John Major, refused to authorise
personal attacks on the Labour leader.
It is understood that, on several occasions, Saatchi appealed personally
to Major to run ads, only to find the Prime Minister upholding
Mawhinney is furious at what he saw as an attempt by Saatchi’s allies to
avoid blame for a Tory defeat, after reports appeared in national
newspapers about the conflict over party strategy.
M&C Saatchi sources dismissed the reports as ’black propaganda’ aimed at
undermining Saatchi and denied that he was briefing journalists against
Mawhinney. They predicted that Saatchi would not walk out on the Tories
and that he would still want to be involved in future elections.
Major vetoed Saatchi’s proposals for a last-minute national press blitz
focusing on Blair in a similar style to the ad showing him sitting on
the knee of the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl.
It is said that Major was determined not to leave the party in the red
at the end of the campaign. The parties’ latest estimates of their ad
budgets show the Tories have spent pounds 12 million and the Referendum
Party, at pounds 7.7 million, has just outspent Labour’s pounds 7.6