Politicians Turn Blind Eye to Ad Rules in Run-Up to UK General Election

22 March 2001

The ad industry’s Committee of Advertising Practice has urged politicians to adopt their own code for party political ads, a move endorsed by Parliament’s Committee on Standards in Public Life.

The CAP washed its hands of policing party political ads after the unedifying excesses of the 1997 election, exemplified by M&C Saatchi’s notorious ‘demon eyes’ ad which depicted Labour leader Blair as a fugitive from a horror movie.

But with nothing in place to curb political ads, advertisers and agencies fear that the genre will heap disrepute on the industry as a whole. But pleas for politicians to agree their own code have fallen on deaf ears – despite offers of help from advertising experts.

Says Andrew Brown, CAP chairman and director general of the Advertising Association: “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.”

Confessed one Tory official: “There has been no attempt even to talk about it.” Labour, naturally, blamed the Tories and Liberal Democrats, a spoke even citing the Human Rights Act in justification of the party’s stonewalling. Banning a political ad could amount to limiting freedom of expression, argued the imaginative spin doctor.

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)