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Sunday, September 26, 1999 Published at 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK


UK Politics

No tax cuts - Kennedy

Charles Kennedy : "Labour's 'war chest' should not be used for tax cuts"

With his first Liberal Democrat conference as leader only a day away, Charles Kennedy has told Labour not to cut taxes in the run-up to the next general election.

Conference99
Speaking from Harrogate where the Liberal Democrat conference is held, Mr Kennedy said the chancellor should use the election "war chest", estimated at between £10bn and £30bn, to "help people and improve public services, and not to give those of us lucky enough to be in jobs further tax cuts".


The BBC's Carolyn Quinn reports: "He made clear he'd be tough on the government where necessary"
Mr Kennedy, who took over from former leader Paddy Ashdown in August, told the BBC: "The Thatcher and the Major years were for the people in the most disadvantaged social positions in this country years of fear.

"I think that the Blair years, so far, have been years of frustration.

"We have had a change of government but we have not had the kind of change in terms of generosity of policy that a lot of people would like to see."


Lib Dem leader, Charles Kennedy: "We can increase our position and do better"
He also predicted that despite his recent "frank and easy" discussion with the prime minister, relations between his party and Labour will become more "competitive" as the election approaches.

Relations between the parties are bound to be one of the key subjects up for debate at conference. Mr Kennedy said co-operation with the government on the constitution would continue only as long as Labour continues to deliver reforms.

He also predicted that proportional representation would be adopted for local elections in England and Wales. It has already been agreed on in principle by Labour and the Lib Dems for Scotland.

Alcohol but no drugs

Turning to the challenge of engaging young people in politics Mr Kennedy said his calls for a Royal Commission into illegal drugs were part of an attempt to discuss issues of concern and relevance to young people.

Responding to questions on whether he had ever tried cannabis Mr Kennedy said: "I didn't as a matter of fact. No."

He said while at university there had been "no shortage of parties and no shortage of alcohol, but drugs weren't much of an issue while I was there".

Looking ahead to the next election Mr Kennedy was upbeat about the Lib Dems' prospects, saying positions in government were not beyond his party's grasp.

He said it was possible to "increase our position and do better and open the doors into government".

Former leader Paddy Ashdown will attend the conference and is expected to make a speech at some point during the week.



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