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Sunday, 28 April, 2002, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Get involved in politics - Kennedy
Charles Kennedy on the Frost programme
Mr Kennedy was speaking ahead of local elections
Charles Kennedy has called on the British people to get involved in the political process in the wake of the shock electoral success of the far-right in France.

Speaking five days ahead of the local elections, the Liberal Democrat leader said he was deeply worried about people's disengagement from party politics.


At the end of the day this is a minuscule as well as a malign political element in the body politic

Charles Kennedy
But he warned fellow politicians not to "talk the issue up", saying that as he had travelled round the country campaigning for next Thursday's elections it was issues like the public services that were paramount in people's minds.

Mr Kennedy was particularly critical of Home Secretary David Blunkett and Labour chairman Charles Clarke, during an interview on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme.

"At the end of the day this is a minuscule, as well as a malign, political element in the body politic.

"They are not going to get anywhere, they don't reflect British opinion any more for a moment than I think Le Pen reflects mainstream French opinion."

Mr Kennedy was quizzed on his party's tax plans in the wake of the Budget, when Chancellor Gordon Brown announced a 1p hike in National Insurance contributions.

The Lib Dem leader said that he would have preferred an increase in income tax and not National Insurance as that hit employers as well.

Bad for employers?

But added that his party would back the added investment - unlike the Conservatives.

"I think a lot of people will question the way Gordon Brown has gone about raising the money.

"If you go down the National Insurance route and awful lot of employers are obviously going to pay more as well as employees.

"Now we've said it is much fairer to go down the income tax route.

"The way that Gordon Brown is going about it is that he's skewing it towards the private sector having to bail out the public sector."


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27 Apr 02 | Europe
25 Apr 02 | UK Politics
17 Apr 02 | UK Politics

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