Lib Dems launch election campaign


Nick Clegg has insisted Liberal Democrat councillors are working to protect public services as he launched his party's English local government election campaign.

The Deputy Prime Minister, whose party suffered a serious blow to their local government powerbase in last year's ballots, said the campaign would focus on "ordinary people".

Lib Dem leader Mr Clegg said all English authorities controlled by his party had frozen council tax and were "more likely" to earmark funding for the lowest paid than those controlled by Labour or the Conservatives.

Mr Clegg visited Stockport to launch the campaign ahead of the May 3 contests, anxious to avoid a repeat of the severe battering at the ballot box the Lib Dems took in last year's local elections - the first after they joined the Conservatives in government.

Some experts have predicted further losses in this years polls - which are also taking place in Scotland and Wales - that could see the party's town hall presence slump to a quarter century-low.

Last week the party lost its deposit in the Bradford West by-election.

Mr Clegg has faced some internal criticism for failing to secure sufficient rewards for dropping his opposition to the axing of the 50p top rate of tax in George Osborne's Budget.

But today he insisted that the Lib Dems were helping "ordinary working people" in councils across England.

He said: "Liberal Democrat councillors across the country are working to protect the services that people value most, while Liberal Democrats in the coalition clear up the economic mess Labour left behind.

"Our priority is clear, in difficult times we must make sure we do all we can to help ordinary working people.

"That is why, unlike Labour or the Conservatives, every Liberal Democrat council in England has frozen council tax.

"That is why Liberal Democrat councils are more likely to earmark funds for the lowest paid than any other. And that is why this month Liberal Democrats in Government are delivering tax cuts for 25 million working people.

"Liberal Democrats have a strong record in local government and are committed to fighting for communities across the UK."