Chelmsford battle all in the mind

THE Liberal Democrats are playing mind games in Chelmsford West, aimed at convincing voters that Labour is a lost cause and that Lib Dem candidate Stephen Robinson is the only person who can beat Conservative MP Simon Burns.

THE Liberal Democrats are playing mind games in Chelmsford West, aimed at convincing voters that Labour is a lost cause and that Lib Dem candidate Stephen Robinson is the only person who can beat Conservative MP Simon Burns.

Mr Robinson's stock has risen in the party and he attended a meeting of the Parliamentary Liberal Democrat group as part of a programme of inviting candidates who have a "good chance" of winning at the General Election.

"The mood was very upbeat, with a confidence that there will be many new members of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party after the election," reports Mr Robinson.

This doesn't cut any ice with Labour candidate Russell Kennedy, who has launched his website www.sixsixswing.labour.co.uk, and is calling upon the anti-Tory majority in the constituency to "sign up and swing" with Labour.


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"The anti-Tory majority has always been split in West Chelmsford between

Labour and the Lib Dems," says Mr Kennedy, who in 2001 pegged back the Conservative majority in neighbouring Maldon and Chelmsford East.

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"Since 1983, only Labour's share of the vote has risen, with Lib Dem support falling by half in 20 years. In 2001 Labour were a strong second place, with the Lib Dem vote share falling yet again.

"At the next General Election in West Chelmsford, only Labour can beat the

Tories, needing just a 6.6% swing for victory. A Lib Dem vote will be a wasted vote, and simply means that the anti-Tory majority will wake up with a Tory MP."

The squabbling between the two challengers amuses MP Simon Burns, whose majority of 6,261 is over Labour. "I am delighted that both Labour and the Lib Dem candidates are fighting among themselves for the honour of who will come second to me at the election," says Mr Burns, who has been the Essex county town's MP since 1987.

"For the past four years, the voters I have met have asked me just one question - when can we get rid of this awful and discredited government?"

Just for the record, there was a technical swing of 0.6% from the Tories to Labour last time. This is because the Lib Dems fell away, losing 5.9% of their 1997 vote to Labour and the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, the Tory share declined 1.9% mainly to UKIP, while Labour advanced 3.1%.

SO the hunting ban is now in place. Anyone who saw the pictures of the cheering thousands on Merseyside at the Waterloo Cup as greyhounds were let slip to rip hares apart - sorry you coursing lovers, "dispatch" them - can only rejoice that Parliament has made the right decision.

It's neither class warfare nor a spurious "urban versus rural" myth to be glad to see the back of the Waterloo Cup - it's merely the removal of a degrading and dehumanising "sport" which has no place in today's society.

APOLOGIES to anyone who tried to contact me last week when I was on leave. My mobile phone decided to go dead as I was driving on the A1 in South Yorkshire and I've only just picked up a new one.

Mind you, it led to a blissfully peaceful week's holiday!

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