Labour campaign 'to woo back southern England'

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The Independent Online
A LABOUR campaign will next month seek to woo back disaffected voters in the south of England following the party's disastrous by-election showings, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

Timed for the run-up to what promises to be a difficult autumn conference, divided over John Smith's 'one member, one vote' reforms and overshadowed by the surge in popularity of the Liberal Democrats, it will focus on economic prosperity, law and order and education.

Details of the plan came as Bryan Gould, the former shadow Cabinet member, warned that regarding southern England as a 'no-go' area could cost Labour a majority government. Speaking in the Newbury, Berkshire, constituency won by the Liberal Democrats in May, Mr Gould said Labour had to make a positive appeal to people in the South. 'If we fail to offer them positive reasons for voting Labour the most obvious port of call for disaffected Tories in the South will be the Liberal Democrats.'

That strategy - relying on the Liberal Democrats to reap the benefits of Tory unpopularity - would not be enough to secure a majority Labour government, he warned.

A spokeswoman said Labour was the main challenger for about two- thirds of seats in the South and London. The campaign, 'Stop the Rot, Start to Build', would highlight that Labour understood the aspirations and concerns of people in the South.