Election candidates given chance to ditch Blair

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Indy Politics

Labour has offered its general election candidates the chance to keep Tony Blair off their campaign literature if they feel his presence would cost them votes. Candidates have been asked to choose from two options if they use a leaflet provided by their regional Labour headquarters - only one of which includes a message from the Prime Minister alongside his picture.

Mr Blair has been seen as a major electoral asset since becoming Labour leader in 1994 - and his picture featured on most leaflets at the 1997 and 2001 elections. However, soundings among Labour MPs suggest a majority of them will choose not to have Mr Blair on their leaflets, after voters lost trust in him over Iraq.

One MP said: "I don't think the party will find many takers. Many of us are opting for the other leaflet. I'll be using a picture of a red rose but not him. Even the most loyal MP knows he is a liability."

A Labour spokesman insisted the leaflet options had nothing to do with Mr Blair's standing. He said: "It's not a political decision. Candidates are free to decide their own material. In some regionsthey can opt for a two-page leaflet which does not include Tony Blair or a four-page one which includes a message from him."