Labour backers target phone-ins

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Members of a Labour Party support group are targeting television and radio phone-in programmes in a concerted effort to marshal support in the run-up to the election.

The Independent has obtained a copy of a memorandum listing all the programmes which members of the Labour Industry Finance Group have been asked to call to back the party's manifesto publicly.

However, the memo urges them not to appear "too partisan'' when making their calls.

"The key to success with all phone-in and audience participation programmes is get questions in early, and don't appear too partisan when speaking to the producer,'' it says.

Under the rallying cry "A Campaigning Election Call'' the memo urges supporters to air their views on as many programmes as possible. "We are uniquely placed as party members in business to grasp the opportunity, rather than leave the Tories and others to make a business case for the return of their chosen party,'' it says. "Below is a list of national programming - tune in and air your views''.

They are asked to ring BBC1's Question Time programme and "cross swords with the panel'' as well as a range of television and radio programmes including Radio 4's Feedback and Any Answers programme and Channel 4's Right to Reply.

At the end of the memo is a list of numbers to call in case of a complaint about a programme "because you thought it was unbalanced, biased or inaccurate, or missed the point''.

The support group is made up of businessmen and authors who have a special interest in transport. No one was available for comment yesterday, but a spokesman for the shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown's office said the group "supports Labour and comes up with initiatives". The latest "initiative'' did not seem much to concern the Labour Party. "It's nothing to do with us," a spokesman said.

A spokesman for Radio 4 said that all callers are asked if they have any political affiliations or interests when they ring in. "We try to avoid having a constant stream of lobbyists phoning in and on the whole they are an honest bunch, but we do try to weed them out as early as possible,'' he said.