Tories go on the offensive in election battle

A leading Conservative has accused Labour of presiding over the "slow death of local government", and has promised that a new Conservative administration would restore power to local people and communities.

Launching a pre-election Commons debate today, the Shadow Deputy Prime Minister David Davis urged the government to account over the collapse of local services, pledging to reverse the current destruction of local councils and institutions.

He accused the government of enforcing post office closures, fomenting a rise in crime, and promoting "pay more for less" tax policies. Mr Davis also warned that conflict between central government and local administrations – like over LEA school funding – had caused a "breakdown of trust".

Mr Davis said: "People are working hard but being taxed harder. They are paying more and more - but they are getting less and less in return. And the result is that people feel disenchanted with politics and fed up with their local councils."

Elsewhere, the Tory Party leader Ian Duncan Smith has gone back to his military roots, and with the language of the parade ground, he told the Daily Telegraph that his party was going to win the election – "no bullshitting". Despite the tough talk, and his having "ripped the gloves off" earlier this week, Mr Duncan Smith had to deflect rumours that there would be a leadership challenge after the local elections.

And the Labour Party has defended its record on local government, saying that results were coming through after record amounts of investment in schools and hospitals.

In an election broadcast, Tony Blair said that the government had put more bobbies on the beat and crime was falling.

He added: "The Conservatives oppose the investment - they say they want 20% cuts across the board. The Liberal Democrats will tell people whatever they want to hear.

"We want the investment and reform to continue. That’s why these elections on Thursday are important. Be ambitious for our country, for Britain, and I hope you will come out and support us on 1 May."


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