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ASHDOWN ANNOUNCES ELECTION PLANS

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Next month's local elections will be the launch pad for the Liberal Democrat general election campaign, according t...
Next month's local elections will be the launch pad for the Liberal Democrat general election campaign, according to party leader Paddy Ashdown.

In an open letter to Liberal Democrat council election candidates, Mr Ashdown praises the record of Britain's 5,000 Liberal Democrat councillors and says the party has the chance to consolidate its position as the second party of local government.

He cited local Liberal Democrats' unrivalled environmental record and their commitment to education investment. But Mr Ashdown's letter is noticeably less hostile to Labour than his recent speech to Liberal Democrat council group leaders, in which he savaged Tony Blair's party's record in local government and its plans to revive local democracy (LGC, 29 March).

In his letter, the Liberal Democrat leader concentrates on Tory 'tax bribes', restricting himself to a reference to the opposition of the 'two old parties' to decentralisation.
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