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31/08/01 . Kevin Maguire . The Guardian . UK  
 
Labour's prize idea to use McDonald's  
 
Labour MPs have been advised by party leaders to approach McDonald's for prizes in constituency competitions to bolster popularity.  

A parliamentary Labour party note circulated to backbenchers suggests they ask the burger chain to provide up to 300 worth of meal vouchers as incentives to schools to persuade pupils to design Westminster Christmas cards to be posted to voters.

The document distributed by Labour's parliamentary campaign team based in the House of Commons - headed "preparing and sharing" - is further evidence of the party's close relations with the controversial US fast food giant.

Based on a draft prepared by junior industry minister, Nigel Griffiths, it says "sponsorship is crucial" to encourage participation and cover costs.

"Get the local cinema and your local McDonald's to provide vouchers - everyone wins," says the note.

McDonald's said it was unaware of the advice to Labour MPs but added that it had been asked, and provided, prizes for a Christmas card competition organised last year by Tottenham MP David Lammy.

A McDonald's spokeswoman said the firm was "happy to help" if approached by individual MPs. The document emerged on the day the Guardian disclosed that McDonald's is to spend 15,000 sponsoring a reception at Labour's conference hosted by party chairman Charles Clarke after the firm was assured Tony Blair would attend.

Leftwing MPs and union leaders expressed opposition to the involvement of a company seen as a symbol of the unacceptable face of globalisation by anti-corporate protesters.  
 
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