Organisation: Three main political parties
Issue: Election messages
Prior to the launch of the party campaigns for the election, Echo
Research, PRWeek's regular media analyst, consulted with an independent
political strategist, who predicted the platforms on which parties would
concentrate in order to receive positive coverage.
For Labour these included their record on the economy and tax,
investment in schools and hospitals and the 'fact' that New Labour has
The Tories would emphasise tough stances on Europe and asylum seekers
and the 'fact' that Labour had broken its 1997 promises.
The Liberal Democrats would underline that they are the party of
honesty, and would increase real investment in public services through
increased taxation. Echo's subsequent analysis of more than 3,800
articles shows which of these main messages the parties have been most
successful in getting across to the print media.
Inititally, coverage favoured the Tories, who pushed issues to the fore
with the early publication of their manifesto, while the majority of the
newspapers put pressure on Labour by taking them to task where they had
failed to deliver. The first two weeks were dominated by messages from
all three main parties on taxation, with several rounds of sparring
before Labour landed a killer punch in the form of John Prescott who
knocked the issues' debate sideways for a few days.
As in 1997, the Tory message machine became dominated by Europe as the
campaign developed, though the focus this time was on saving the pound
rather than the 'horrors' of the Social Chapter. But William Hague found
himself increasingly backed into a corner by accusations of 'single
issue campaigning', as his stance on asylum seekers and law and order
failed to deliver more than sporadic headlines.
In contrast, Millbank rode the wave of the economic feel-good
One by one, the opinion-forming press - from The Times to the FT to The
Economist - declared their backing for Blair, generally qualified by
demands to boost spending on public services, and tempered by
accusations of arrogance and ignoring the parliamentary process.
Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. More information can be found