It is clear that the Tories are trying to buy this General Election with vast sums in its coffers donated by hedge fund super millionaires and the likes of billionaires such as Lord Ashcroft.

The fact that the Tory candidate in Halesowen and Rowley Regis has chosen five times in six months to lavish his vested interest booty to buy the front page (and three other “wraparound” pages) of the Halesowen News is bad enough. But for that propaganda to appear to the casual reader at first glance as good, honest News reporting is most galling.

It is reprehensible that none of this material has attracted the cautionary “Advert” tag that is usually applied to advertorials, as is recommended by industry guidelines.

While most people will see this stuff for what it is once properly read, the plain fact is that many will only give it a cursory look and gain a false impression.

But it is inexplicable, given that only the week before, the Tory’s Labour challenger, Stephanie Peacock, had her single wraparound clearly tagged “Advert”. It suggests one rule for blue and another for red.

I’m sure I speak for many Halesowen News readers in asking that every effort should be made to differentiate between political propaganda and quality editorial – especially when it smothers the front of the paper and e-edition. A tiny line at the bottom saying it is in support of a candidate is insufficient.

Local papers are typically dogged in remaining independent in the political fray, and this attitude is especially important for our democracy in the run up to a General Election. It is therefore crucial that no perception of political favour can fall on respected titles such as the Halesowen News.

The Tory PR spin machine is welloiled already, we do not need its deceit and misrepresentations to be given a free ride – nor suspicions that as a publisher, Newsquest is in hock to the party with the biggest cheque book. More care and openness please!

Chris Morley Goodrest Avenue Halesowen

Editor’s note: We think the advert was clearly an advert. For the record, the Halesowen News is strictly neutral. We support no party.