Shadow chancellor beefs up regional campaign

LABOUR can make a breakthrough in rural areas where its vote has traditionally been weak.

That was the message from shadow chancellor Ed Balls on a visit to the region to boost his party’s chances in next month’s local elections.

Mr Balls, a political bruiser who has carved out a reputation as a tough opponent of the coalition was in the region to boost Labour campaigns in Suffolk and Essex.

During a visit to Ipswich, during which he visited the closure-threatened Rosehill Library, he said he expected Labour to make big gains on May 5.

Voters in rural areas who had traditionally voted LibDem as a protest against the Tories now found the two parties in coalition in Westminster.

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Mr Balls said: “Now there is only one mainstream party that is opposing the coalition and voters are seeing that and coming to us.”

He was heartened to see an increase in the number of candidates in rural areas. “I hope we also see an increase in the number of Labour voters next month as well,” he added.

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After his visit to Ipswich, Mr Balls travelled to Colchester where he said he believed people in the town had been particularly angered by the rise in university tuition fees and cuts to Essex Police.

The shadow chancellor said that on these issues, and many others, Labour was the only “credible alternative” to the Government.

“In university towns like Colchester I think Labour will win a lot of support,” he said. “For the first time people are saying that they don’t think university is the right option for them because of the big rise in fees – this is not progress. You can’t blame the universities, they’ve been put in an impossible position.”

He added: “We know that Essex will lose about a 1,000 police staff and this is unacceptable to most people. What labour is saying is that we will prioritise PCSOs to make sure there is a police presence on our streets and we’ll take action to tackle crime in our communities.”

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