Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[0] Campaigns on Hold as MPs Look for Work to Do

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[0] Campaigns on Hold as MPs Look for Work to Do

Article excerpt


THE postponement of the general election carries enormous political significance but has serious financial repercussions too as the parties stall their plans for a full-pitched April campaign.

Both Labour and Conservative organisers are today preparing to hire more staff and rent more poster space in towns and cities around the country throughout May as they rewrite their campaign plans for a June election.

The changes will bite into their budgets.

Both are allowed to spend up to [pound]15million during the campaign, but much of that has already been earmarked by both Millbank and Conservative Central Office for poster spaces and advertising. Labour is expected to go ahead with its eye-catching poster campaign over the next fortnight, not least because it could face large cancellation fees. Although it is possible to sublet that poster space, more than 1,500 sites have been booked over the next fortnight, depicting the Tories in a mock horror-film style as Economic Disaster II.

The Conservatives have invested a lot in internet advertising and may not be so heavily hit. They have already had three extensive poster campaigns in the last few weeks and don't want to cancel other sites that are booked. All the parties may cut back on staffing until the campaign proper begins. Volunteers on all sides will be told not to come into party offices for another few weeks. Today, Tory and Labour spokesmen were being cautious about saying too much. A Millbank official said simply that they are working to ensure that the party is ready for both local and general elections. One Tory candidate said: "Frankly, people are going to be sick and tired of politicians if we do too much now. We have to be careful how much we turn up on the doorsteps."

But what will happen at Westminster?

Even with a 12-day recess approaching, the Commons now has an extra 15 days to get through legislative business. No Government likes the idea of MPs with too much time on their hands and now it faces the prospect of fresh debate on government Bills which had been expected to die. Chief among these is the Hunting Bill, which was expected to run out of parliamentary time, and suddenly assumed new prominence today with the postponement of the election and a new compromise move from peers. …

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