Blair vetoes attack of the Mr Men

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Tony Blair, the Labour leader, has vetoed a "negative and personalised" advertising campaign which ridicules the Prime Minister as a dithering version of the "Mr Men" children's cartoon, write Stephen Castle and Paul Routledge.

The Labour leader rejected the campaign, drawn up by the advertising agency BMP and senior Labour advisers, after a presentation last week.

His move, which dismayed some close colleagues, exposes Labour tensions over how to attack John Major.

Those who attended last week's presentation included Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair's press secretary, Peter Mandelson, head of election campaigning, Philip Gould, a Labour advertising guru, and David Hill, the party's chief media spokesman. All worked with BMP on the campaign, which featured the Prime Minister variously as Mr Weak, Mr Panic, Mr Spineless, Mr Dither and Mr Wet.

Last month Mr Blair himself accused the Prime Minister of being "weak, weak, weak", and the party's media and advertising men have been pursuing the theme.

An internal memorandum written by Mr Mandelson last week argues that Mr Major's refusal to call an early election "will reinforce the image of a government treading water while the country continues to drift. It certainly deepens Major's reputation for dithering, which our research tells us is one of his and the Tories' biggest Achilles' heels."

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