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Monday, 29 January, 2001, 20:44 GMT
No Lib-Lab pact - Kennedy
Charles Kennedy
Mr Kennedy said the idea of a pact was "preposterous"
The Liberal Democrats have ruled out any electoral pact with Labour in the next general election.

Party leader Charles Kennedy described suggestions that the two parties should agree to a pact or tactical voting as "preposterous".

There will be no pacts, no deals, where the Liberal Democrats and Labour are concerned

Charles Kennedy
In a speech in London, he said the government's stance on crime and its record on civil liberties meant the Lib Dems could not cooperate with Labour.

Mr Kennedy's comments follow months in which tentative feelers have been put out behind the scenes by figures in both centre-left parties about possible cooperation.

Mr Kennedy made his comments in a speech to the Social Market Foundation in London.

He said: "At this election, there will be no pacts, no deals, where the Liberal Democrats and Labour are concerned."

Election manifesto

Mr Kennedy attacked Labour's "illiberal" policies on civil liberties and its "punitive populism" on asylum and crime.

He said the Lib Dems would fight the general election on a manifesto that has "liberty" at its heart.

"When I look at the current government, and its record on civil liberties, I find it very difficult to attach the label progressive to it.

"There is, I sometimes think, a judgement made by Labour politicians, that they have to out-Tory the Tories on crime, that somehow knee-jerk reactions are the best."

Labour policies on mandatory drug testing, snooping on e-mails, restriction of the right to trial by jury and imposing blanket curfews on under-16s were indicative of a conservative outlook, not a progressive one, he said.

He added: "Labour's priorities veer too much towards punitive populism. Neither treating the causes of crime, nor safeguarding the rights of the individual."

'Illiberal policies'

Mr Kennedy added that the party would fight every seat and would seek to maximise votes in every constituency.

"We will be fighting Labour hard on civil liberties, highlighting the government's illiberal policies on asylum and law and order.

"It is our territory, and we are deeply disappointed with Labour's record."

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