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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 August, 2004, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Kennedy upbeat over next election
Charles Kennedy
Mr Kennedy insists that his party will remain independent
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has urged his party to take an ambitious approach in the next general election.

The move comes following recent by-election successes in Leicester South.

Mr Kennedy believes important gains can be made when voters eventually go to the polls.

He told BBC 1's Breakfast with Frost: "If we go into the next election, as I hope we will, on 24-25% (share of the vote), the sky is the limit.

"Therefore we shouldn't lack ambition".

Parmjit Singh Gill recently overturned a 13,000 Labour majority to take Leicester South and increase the Liberal Democrat's standing in Parliament to 55 MPs.

Despite the victory, Mr Kennedy played down the prospect of replacing the Conservatives as the main opposition party.

Voting system 'vagaries'

He said: "I think that the potential is there without any shadow of a doubt for us to take seats and votes off Labour and Conservative alike.

"But under the vagaries of our voting system it would be a foolish person indeed, least of all me, that would be able to predict what might turn out to be the case the day after the next election."

He also insisted that the Liberal Democrats will continue to remain an independent political party even if the outcome of next year's general election is inconclusive.

Mr Kennedy reinforced the point when he insisted there was no chance of an informal Lib-Lab Pact like the one which helped sustain the minority Labour government in 1977/78.

"No, no pacts, no deals. That is history, absolutely," he added.

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