Iraq war dominates coverage in closing days

The PRWeek/TNS Media Intelligence analysis for the final full week of the campaign illustrates how the Iraq war has shot from oblivion to dominate proceedings. Having failed to register as an issue in previous weeks, Iraq was linked with Labour in 82 separate news and current affairs broadcasts.

As the only anti-war main party, the Liberal Democrats successfully forced the issue onto the agenda early last week as leader Charles Kennedy called for a public inquiry. A media leak of advice given to Tony Blair just prior to the war then ensured that Iraq took a stranglehold over media debate. The BBC's Question Time special with the three party leaders was dominated by Iraq, as was media commentary afterwards about the show.

Tax and spending, the dominant issue in previous weeks, struggled for attention, as did immigration, hitherto the core focus of the Tory campaign.

The analysis monitored coverage in the main broadcast news and current affairs programmes between Monday 25 April and Sunday 1 May.

Charlie Whelan, p18.

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