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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 February, 2004, 11:48 GMT
Lib Dem draft manifesto leaked
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy
Scrapping Labour's New Deal is on Kennedy's election platform
The Liberal Democrats have been left "a little red faced" after unintentionally leaking their draft pre-manifesto.

A Labour member of the Welsh Assembly was mistakenly e-mailed copies of the document on Tuesday.

Lembit Opik, the Lib Dem spokesman on Wales, described the leak as "sub-optimal" although the party said at least it allowed some debate of plans.

The proposals include scrapping Labour's New Deal and having more drivers' congestion charges.

Cutting the number of spin doctors in Whitehall and having an elected Senate are also in the pre-manifesto, which lays the ground for the Lib Dem general election campaign.

But among the sections listed as missing from the e-mail are plans to simplify the tax system, environmentally-friendly tax proposals and pensions plans.

'Not the best'

The draft pre-manifesto, stamped "confidential - not for circulation", was sent to Lib Dem members of the Welsh Assembly as part of an internal party consultation, but ended up being sent to a Labour AM in Cardiff Bay.

They always say that if you want to get something out to the public then mark it secret
Matthew Taylor,
Lib Dem chairman
Mr Opik said he would be "having some conversations" to work out what went wrong, insisting that "this sort of thing only happens once".

He added that he would also be "having a chat" with party leader Charles Kennedy.

Lib Dem chairman Matthew Taylor told BBC News 24 the party was "a little bit red-faced" about the mistake.

But he added: "They always say that if you want to get something out to the public then mark it secret."

The document was not a manifesto itself but would be debated as part of drawing up the eventual election platform, said Mr Taylor.

He argued it showed the Lib Dems were working seriously on policies like replacing council tax and scrapping tuition fees.

'Insult to drivers'

Labour Party chairman Ian McCartney said the document proved the Lib Dems had no idea how to pay for their long list of spending commitments.

"It also shows that Charles Kennedy is secretly planning to axe the new Child Trust Fund and return Britain to Tory levels of unemployment by axing the New Deal," he said.

"Charles Kennedy should now come clean on his private plans to hit hard working families."

The plans also came under fire from Conservative shadow transport secretary Damian Green.

He said: "The Liberal Democrats have confirmed that they plan to pile even more burden on hard pressed British motorists with the extension of congestion charging to other towns and cities."

Motorists already paid more than their share and it was insulting to suggest they should have to pay more, he argued.

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