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Wednesday, April 28, 1999 Published at 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK


Labour salvo targets glum Tories

Tory disarray no excuse for Labour complacency - Cunningham

Labour supporters have been warned not to be complacent about next week's local elections.

Government ministers sounded the warning on Wednesday, saying that ensuring a high turn out was the greatest challenge facing the party.

With little more than a week to go to polling day, Cabinet Office minister Jack Cunningham warned the party cannot expect the record levels of support earned at the 1997 general and the 1995 local elections.


[ image: Dr.Jack Cunningham, the Cabinet 'Enforcer', targets Tories]
Dr.Jack Cunningham, the Cabinet 'Enforcer', targets Tories
Dr Cunningham told a news conference it would be "difficult" to repeat his party's performance in the 1995 local elections, which was the last time the majority of the seats up for election on Thursday next week were contested.

The party secured 47% of the vote at the 1995 poll, a result which eclipses even their 1997 general election landslide.

Local Government Minister Hilary Armstrong said: "We are fighting for every seat in local government but we are doing that from a base that is higher than the Labour Party has ever had before.

"We still expect that our greatest challenge is turn-out, and getting people to the polls."

Health Secretary Frank Dobson called the situation "unpredictable" but said he hoped the row in the Tory Party over public spending would remind people of what the Conservatives were like in government.

"With a bit of luck it may be a reminder to people that this collection of stupid incompetents in opposition were a collection of stupid incompetents in government."

Labour is expecting the current public disarray being experienced by the Conservatives to result in an even poorer result for the Tories at next week's poll than 1995 when they polled just 25%.

Comparisons are being drawn with the worst days of John Major's reign as Tory leader.

Ms Armstrong said: "The Conservative leadership has achieved something in the last few days which none of us believed possible - it has made the Tory Party look like even more of a shambles than it did under John Major."



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