A rose garden love-in, but no love lost in Thirsk

The Liberal Democrat candidate in the delayed Thirsk and Malton election on May 27 has promised a "full-on fight" against the Tories.

Just as his leader Nick Clegg was fawning over David Cameron in the Downing Street rose garden this afternoon, the Liberal Democrat candidate in the delayed Thirsk and Malton election promised a “full-on fight” against the Tories – and even called on Labour supporters to “vote tactically”.

Howard Keal, leader of the Lib Dem group on Ryedale council, told the Yorkshire Post:

“It’s a full-on fight, there’s no question about it. I never expected anything else than we would fight the by-election. It was never in any shadow of a doubt. I hope people in our constituency will seize the opportunity we have been given to upset the apple cart…

I hope disgruntled Conservatives – of which there are plenty – will lend me their vote and Labour supporters will vote tactically to help deliver a shock result in Thirsk and Malton.”

Labour candidate Jonathan Roberts, however, has accused Keal’s party of “propping up the Tories”. Thirsk and Malton is a newly created constituency, with a notional Tory majority of almost 15,000 over Labour – 27,889 (52.8%) to 13,202 (25%) – with the Liberal Democrats in third on 9,663 votes (18.3%).

Though Labour is unlikely to win the seat, the focus will be on the Lib Dem share, with any swing to Labour spelling trouble for Nick Clegg amidst growing fears the party could be squeezed out. The election, postponed because of the death of the UKIP candidate, will take place on May 27.

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