A Tory attack over the Government’s decision to award a pounds 1.7
million contract to BMP DDB, Labour’s agency, has backfired.
The Tories condemned the Department of Social Security for awarding a
television and press campaign promoting one-off payments to help
pensioners pay their fuel bills this winter to BMP without a pitch.
’The Government should have been sensitive to the fact that BMP has held
a Labour party account since 1985,’ the Tories said in a statement. ’For
the Government, this award without it going to tender leaves it open to
the charge of sleaze by favouring an agency, closely linked to the
Labour Party, with an advertising campaign which was not required.’
But Tory officials later admitted privately the party had scored ’an own
goal’ after former Tory ministers told them that BMP had been retained
by the DSS for several years while their party was in power, and had
often won campaigns without a pitch.
In fact, BMP has a less secure position at the DSS under Labour. It will
have to bid for most DSS work after losing its status as the
department’s lead agency (Campaign, 7 November 1997).
One Tory admitted: ’It was a cock-up. We should have checked our facts a
little more carefully.’
A Labour official dismissed the claims as ’ludicrous’. But a Tory
spokesman insisted the attack remained valid because the main aim of the
campaign was to ’further Labour’s political interests’.
They said there was no need for advertising when pensioners did not have
to claim their payments of up to pounds 50 and would receive the money