LondonNet News Headlines
28/05/01
Public Services are First Election Battleground
- Parties row over health and education as Blair visits Queen

TONY BLAIR'S Labour Party appeared to have won the first round of pre-election jockeying for position as public services dominated the hustings on the day the Prime Minister asks the Queen for permission to dissolve parliament.

Traditionally, Labour scores best in voter-surveys on issues such as health and education, while the opposition Tory Party come out on top on crime. Party managers usually try to steer the news agenda towards their own best areas, but today Tory spin doctors took the brave step of challenging the government on public services.

"Labour are truly the party of non-delivery," said Tory chairman Michael Ancram. "In Whitehall or the town hall, the story is exactly the same - higher taxes on those who can least afford to pay, and poorer services for those who need them most."

Health Secretary Alan Milburn reached for the card likely to be played a lot by Labour over the coming month; that the Tories cuts in health and education during 18 years of power prior to 1997 give William Hague's party little firm ground on which to stand.

"There will be a big choice, I think, for the country about whether we are going to go back to the days of cutback and closure," Milburn said.





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