Labour's love lost

 
Published: Monday 15 December 1997

britain's governing Labour party's abrupt volte-face on November 5 on the plan to ban Formula One racing sponsorship by tobacco companies has become as a major embarrassment. This was one of the electoral promises of the party before the general elections in May, which it won by a landslide. Recently, the finance minister was asked during an interview on bbc radio about the party receiving donations from Bernie Ecclestone, president of the Formula One Constructors' Association. He had no answer. The party later admitted that it had received a donation of more than 5,000 ( us $8,150) and claimed that it returned the amount.

This has given a new twist to the controversy surrounding sports sponsorship by tobacco companies. Junior health minister Tessa Jowell said the pledge to ban Formula One tobacco sponsorship had been dropped as a matter of "practical politics" because of the risk that the sport might move out of Europe. Formula One racing is heavily dependent upon money from tobacco companies.

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