Lib Dems demand debate on Labour

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The Independent Online
ACTIVISTS IN the Liberal Democrats last night claimed they had forced Paddy Ashdown to retreat from holding a party-wide ballot on closer relations with the Government.

The Lib Dem leader was confident of winning a ballot on proposals to consider widening cooperation to areas including health and education.

The activists went to last night's meeting of the federal executive planning to block the idea by threatening to call a special conference if it went ahead. The executive instead backed a full debate on closer relations with Labour which will be held at the Lib Dems' Harrogate conference in September.

"Paddy backed down. We are now going to debate it at the Autumn conference, which is very healthy for the party," said one leading Lib Dem opponent of closer cooperation with the Government.

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