Beckett prepares for campaign on tax rises

Click to follow
LABOUR is planning a heavyweight campaign for the council and European Parliament elections on traditional Tory territory of tax, the economy and crime.

Margaret Beckett, deputy leader and campaigns co-ordinator, told yesterday's weekly Parliamentary Labour Party meeting that the European elections in particular would be a referendum on the Government. 'We will denounce tax increases day by day,' she said.

Labour appears to be preparing for some defeats in the local elections, however. Jack Straw, shadow Environment Secretary, warned MPs: 'We are vulnerable to losing seats . . . possibly as many as 200.'

The party says dramatic successes in the 1990 elections were artificially bolstered by deep antagonism towards the poll tax and it will judge this year's results by share of vote. It expects to lose seats, particularly in the North-west, in areas of traditional Tory support.

Labour's London campaign will take the form of a referendum on the state of the capital, the only one in the European Union to be in receipt of regional aid. But the party does not expect to make dramatic progress in Westminster and Wandsworth.

The litmus test will be the results in outer London boroughs, where the Tories are at risk of losing control of Ealing and Brent after snatching them from Labour last time. Other potential Labour targets are Croydon and Enfield.

A Labour Party political broadcast next week will focus on taxation. The party is to launch a 'payslip' spotlighting tax rises.