Rural Tories spot Lib Dem weak spot

By Alex Stevenson

Conservatives defending the marginal West Worcestershire seat are attacking the Liberal Democrats’ national policies as the local party looks to make an impressive gain.

The rural seat, held by Sir Michael Spicer for the last 36 years, could go orange if Richard Burt’s campaign succeeds. Tory candidate Harriett Baldwin is defending a 3,594 majority.

The constituency is 21st on the overall Lib Dem target list, making it exactly the kind of place where the third party could expect to make a breakthrough if the polling surge towards the Lib Dems is translated uniformly.

Ms Baldwin is appealing to voters is to back her as the best way of keeping Gordon Brown out of Downing Street.

“People don’t want to wake up on May 7th and find that Gordon Brown is still prime minister,” she said.

“They realise this election is their chance to vote on the terrible track record we’ve had with 13 years of Labour.”

Recent progress from the Lib Dems in local elections – they now hold six of the seat’s ten county councillors – has forced her on to the offensive, however.

Ms Baldwin, describing Lib Dem policies, cited an amnesty for Britain’s 700,000 illegal immigrants; greater federal integration into Europe and adopting the euro; a hike in capital gains taxes; and a reluctance to “tackle the deficit” immediately.

“When the British people look at some of these policies they’re going to say that he [leader Nick Clegg] was very telegenic [in last week’s leaders’ debate]… but he’s not for me. He definitely came across the best but that’s not the policy I’m looking for.”

Mr Burt, who is the husband of Solihull’s Lib Dem MP Lorely Burt, believes the airing of Lib Dem policies seen in the televised leaders’ debates is benefiting his party, however.

“In all my time in politics, and at least postwar, people have always had this idea it was effectively a two-party democracy,” he said.

“We’ve been chipping away for years. Now we’ve got three parties on parity in the polls; a clear set of policies on which we would be elected on; and in Nick Clegg we had the right person with the right policies at the right time.”