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 A/V REPORTS
The BBC's June Kelly
"This was women's day for the Lib Dems"
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Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy
"I think we can be the most serious opposition"
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Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Lib Dems 'to replace Tories'

Charles Kennedy with BBC political editor Andrew Marr
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has said his party could replace the Conservatives as the "most serious" opposition to Labour after the election.


There will be no coherent opposition to a second term Tony Blair government - and I think that's where we come in

Charles Kennedy

Speaking during a BBC News Online webcast, Mr Kennedy said Labour was "looking the likely winner" in the election - and might romp home with a landslide.

The Lib Dem leader said the Tories would be in no position to oppose Labour after the election - and so the Lib Dems could fill the role.

Predicting that the knives would be out for William Hague, he said: "The sound of cameras being set up and scaffolding being erected is almost audible around London SW1 at the moment."

'No opposition'

"And what we've seen yet is as nothing to what we will see after 7 June.

"There will be no coherent opposition to a second term Tony Blair government - and I think that's where we come in," said Mr Kennedy.

Asked about the Tory policy that only MPs for English seats should be allowed to vote on legislation just affecting England, the Lib Dem leader said he would not rule out such a change.

Lady Williams
Lady Williams: "Not a good election for women"
Mr Kennedy was speaking as the Lib Dems focused on the drive to take women out of poverty - with the launch of a manifesto for women.

Lib Dem veteran Lady Williams - the former Labour cabinet minister Shirley Williams - said it had not been a good election for women.

Fewer women MPs

Labour and the Tories had not addressed women's problems properly, she said, and there would be fewer female MPs after the election.

"Nationally and internationally, the face of poverty is the face of a woman," she said.

"Inequality in pay, deplorable levels of basic pension and the problems of women's dual responsibilities for work and family show how far we still have to go.

"The majority at the receiving end are always women."

The Lib Dem manifesto for women promotes the party's plan to phase out the 10p tax rate for low earners.

That could take a million women, on the lowest incomes, out of taxation, said the party.

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