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Labour and Lib Dems 'form non-aggression pact' for 'Red Wall' seats in local elections

Labour and Lib Dems 'form non-aggression pact' for 'Red Wall' seats in local elections

‘Cynical’ Lib Dem-Labour pact for local polls could be ‘trial’ for possible pact in next general election, top Tory warns

  • Across swaths of the Midlands and North battleground, the Lib Dems field candidates in just a fraction of the seats up for grabs
  • He leaves the field free for Labor to confront the Tories
  • For example in Bury, the Lib Dems occupy only 15 of the 51 seats in contention
  • And in Hartlepool, Sir Ed Davey’s party is contesting just two of the 13 seats up for grabs

Labor and the Liberal Democrats have fueled speculation of an informal non-aggression pact in local elections next month.

Nominations data, which closed this week, reveals that both opposition parties appear to be giving each other a free run against the Tories in many of their key target seats.

Across swathes of the ‘Red Wall’ battleground in the Midlands and North, the Liberal Democrats are fielding candidates for only a fraction of the seats up for grabs, leaving the field open for Labor to take on the Tories.

In Bury, for example, the Lib Dems occupy only 15 of the 51 seats in contention. In Hartlepool, Sir Ed Davey’s party is contesting just two of the 13 seats up for grabs, while in Blackburn they are contesting just four of the 15 seats.

Nominations data, which closed this week, reveals both opposition parties appear to be giving each other a free run against the Tories in many of their key target seats

The situation is reflected in the so-called ‘blue wall’ in the south of England, where the Lib Dems are seen as the Conservative regime’s biggest challengers.

In Somerset, Labor is fielding candidates for just 45 of the 110 seats in contention; in St Albans, Sir Keir Starmer’s party is contesting only 25 of the 56 seats; and in Cheltenham, Labor is battling eight of 21 seats.

A senior Conservative source said both parties appeared to be using next month’s polls as a “test run” for a possible electoral pact in the next general election.

‘If you look at the nomination data for certain parts of the country, it’s pretty clear that Labor and the Lib Dems are trying to give each other a clear lead in where they think one of them has the best chance’ , the source said. .

“It is totally cynical and deprives voters of a proper choice. But it looks like a trial run for the next election and laying the groundwork for some sort of coalition.

In swaths of the 'Red Wall' battleground in the Midlands and North, the Liberal Democrats are fielding candidates for only a fraction of the seats up for grabs, leaving the field open for Labor to take on the Tories.

In swaths of the ‘Red Wall’ battleground in the Midlands and North, the Liberal Democrats are fielding candidates for only a fraction of the seats up for grabs, leaving the field open for Labor to take on the Tories.

Labor and the Lib Dems deny collusion, but the Financial Times reported this year that the two parties have already started working on a “non-aggression pact” in the next election, which is due in spring 2024.

Sir Keir reportedly told Labour’s high command that the party must “ruthlessly focus” its resources on its target seats, leaving the Lib Dems as the main challengers in many parts of the country.

None of Labour’s target seats are said to be on the Lib Dems’ top 30 target list.

In Bury, for example, the Lib Dems occupy only 15 of the 51 seats in contention.  In Hartlepool, Sir Ed Davey's party is contesting just two of the 13 seats up for grabs, while in Blackburn they are contesting just four of 15

In Bury, for example, the Lib Dems occupy only 15 of the 51 seats in contention. In Hartlepool, Sir Ed Davey’s party is contesting just two of the 13 seats up for grabs, while in Blackburn they are contesting just four of 15

A Lib Dem strategist said: ‘If Labor and Lib Dem are spending all their time and money trying to fight each other, it’s really not good for progressive politics.’ We have to fight in the areas where we can win.

Boris Johnson’s deputy chief of staff David Canzini warned last month that the May 5 election would be ‘very difficult’ for the Tories, with a real risk that voters would use the polls to punish the government over Partygate and the cost of living.

Senior Tories are bracing for a ‘wipe out’ in London and worried about potential losses in the south of England. But they remain hopeful they can hold ground in the red wall areas that put Mr Johnson at No 10 in 2019.

None of Labor's target seats are said to be on the Lib Dems' top 30 target list

None of Labor’s target seats are said to be on the Lib Dems’ top 30 target list

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