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Kevin Bocquet
"Lib Dems hope Oldham voters might have had enough of new Labour."
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banner Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Reporting from Oldham

Kevin Bocquet looks at Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, controlled by Labour but a Liberal Democrats target amid claims of disillusionment among Labour's supporters

You would have thought Labour would have little to worry about in Oldham.

They have controlled the local authority for most of the last 20 years.

But the majority which they are defending in this election is not huge.


Council history
1994:No Overall Control
1995: Lab
1996: Lab
1998: Lab
1999: Lab
Labour hold just 32 of the 60 council seats, an overall majority of just four, and an 8% percent swing away from Labour is all it would take for them to lose control.

That explains why the Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy made a point of visiting Oldham during the election campaign.

With 26 seats on the council, the Lib Dems are Labour's closest rivals, and they believe that in an area which displays all the symptoms of continuing economic deprivation, Labour supporters have plenty of reason to feel disillusioned with their party.

Three years into the Blair government, nearly a fifth of Oldham's population still depends on income support.

More than a quarter of the area's housing is in serious disrepair.

The death rate is higher than the national average. So too are the crime figures.

All of which makes the Lib Dems hope that Oldham voters might have had enough of New Labour, and might be looking for a change.

The turn-out at the 1996 local election was 37%.

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