Labour's fury at tactical vote group

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Indy Politics
The Labour Party has been accused of shooting itself in the foot after threatening possible legal action against a tactical voting organisation.

The group called GROT (Get Rid of Them) describes itself as an anti- Tory tactical voting campaign whose sole aim is to remove as many Conservative MPs as possible in the general election. It has targeted 90 seats in which it believes tactical voting, either for Labour or Liberal Democrat candidates, could oust a Tory MP.

However, a leaflet issued by GROT in the Milton Keynes South West constituency urging Liberal Democrats to vote Labour has angered the Labour Party. A letter from the party's lawyers, Steel & Shamash, says the leaflet could be construed as election expenses on behalf of the Labour candidate and possibly breach the restrictions governing election expenditure.

The letter, sent on 5 February, demands that GROT stops leafleting in Milton Keynes and other constituencies.

It adds: "The strictures laid down in this letter are equally applicable to those constituencies and our clients wish to make it absolutely clear that they dissociate themselves completely from your campaign and that no authorisation will be given by any Labour candidate or election agent for your leaflets to be included in their return of election expenses."

GROT spokeswoman Patti Akrigg said the letter was "extraordinary". "It's a foot-shooting exercise. They have so much to gain from our help."

She said the letter had caused "near panic" among organisers who could be legally liable if the party sued. At least one member has already left GROT because of the legal warning.

GROT believes tactical voting by supporters of the third party for the main rival to the Tory candidate in targeted seats could remove scores of Tory MPs. The organisation is now confined largely to writing letters to local and national newspapers and is trying to fund a national advertising campaign.

The organisation is writing to local newspapers in the Wirral South constituency urging the electorate there to vote tactically in next Thursday's by-election.

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