Labour drawn into regional Cabinets row

By staff

Labour ministers have been accused of using regional Cabinet meetings to help the party in key marginal seats.

Conservative MP Douglas Carswell has written to the head of the civil service, Sir Gus O’Donnell, to complain after it emerged Harriet Harman had used the trips to arrange meetings with local party officials.

The deputy Labour leader wrote in the run-up to a regional Cabinet meeting in Exeter: “This will be a chance for me to hear directly from you as party members in a private meeting to talk about the issues and campaigning activity.

“It will be particularly helpful for me to hear from you in the run-up to the general election about the activities taking place in the area.”

Mr Carswell wrote that Gordon Brown and the government had been “caught red-handed” in breaking ministerial rules forbidding the use of government money for political activity.

“It is clear these meetings are simply designed to ship the Cabinet into marginal seats to secure good PR for Labour’s election campaign at taxpayers’ expense,” he added.

The Cabinet is meeting in what is set to be one of the hardest fought battles in the north-east.

Durham’s Labour backbencher Roberta Blackman-Woods faces a real threat to her 3,274 majority from the Liberal Democrats.