MPs' expenses: Money row hitting county election campaigns

THE national row over MPs expenses seems to be knocking the stuffing out of campaigning for the Cambridgeshire County Council and European Parliament elections on June 4. Although both principal parties say it is business as usual , anecdotal evidence f

THE national row over MPs' expenses seems to be knocking the stuffing out of campaigning for the Cambridgeshire County Council and European Parliament elections on June 4.

Although both principal parties say it is "business as usual", anecdotal evidence from across Huntingdonshire suggests that - apart from Brampton-and-Kimbolton and Godmanchester-and-Huntingdon-East divisions in the county poll - there is little sign of parties actively campaigning.

Conservative agent Sir Peter Brown, who is seeking re-election in Huntingdon division, admits there have been "some pretty nasty verbals" on the doorstep from people angry at the behaviour of some MPs.

"Locally candidates from all parties are pretty upset," he told The Hunts Post. "It's a great shame when the candidates are working very hard.


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"Even those who are involved are angry. It's destroying our Parliamentary democracy, and the Government is paralysed."

Sir Peter believes Tory support for the county elections is holding up.

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Liberal Democrat agent Martin Land, who is a candidate in Eaton Socon-and-Eynesbury, said: "Very little is going on. We're doing what we usually do, but I haven't yet seen even a Tory leaflet here. I think they're having a really hard time, but we're less affected by what's happening nationally. We do get the odd remark about politicians in general.

"But, in Eynesbury, there's a local focus with the community college."

Historically, Huntingdonshire has not been fruitful electoral ground for Labour, and there is little sign of the party's campaigning - though party leaflets have been seen in Sawtry.

What is unclear is the effect the expenses row will have on voter turnout on June 4. It could either put people off voting altogether or make angry electors want to vote in the Euro elections for parties not represented at Westminster.

A lower turnout in the county elections would probably have a fairly neutral effect. Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have solid cores of loyal supporters who will turn out.

nElection special: Q&A with the main parties Pages 8 and 9.

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