GUILDHALL OVERFLOWS FOR KENNEDY

April 26, 2005 11:16 PM
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy MP

Charles Kennedy addressed a packed rally in Cambridge

"Charles Kennedy came to Cambridge tonight - and the people came to him" - this evening's BBC News at Ten report caught the upbeat mood of tonight's election rally at the Guildhall, as over a thousand people came to hear the Lib Dem leader and to support David Howarth's growing campaign to be the city's next MP. More on the campaign at www.davidhowarth.org.uk.

So many voters turned up that hundreds were left outside. But Charles Kennedy, Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell, and Baroness Shirley Williams took turns to address the crowd in the Market Square.

Inside the hall, parliamentary candidate David Howarth hailed the day as a turning point in the campaign, signified by this morning's defection of Labour MP Brian Sedgemore to the Lib Dems. He represents hundreds of thousands of former Labour supporters around the country who can no longer support a Labour party platform that fully endorses the Blair government's actions on Iraq. Iraq, the council tax, and tuition fees are among the reasons why many of these voters are now backing David in Cambridge.

The evening's highlight was a rousing speech from Charles Kennedy. Hammering the Conservatives' "mean-spirited campaign", he emphasized that it was now clear the Tories would not form the next government. "The Conservatives are heading for a third defeat in a row and are clearly not fit to govern, Labour has lost the trust of the people. People who want to vote against Tony Blair can and should vote Liberal Democrat."

"From the start, we have fought this campaign by addressing people's hopes rather than playing the politics of fear and prejudice. We have fought a positive campaign based on our principles and on our core beliefs. We have presented solid, costed policies which have withstood the onslaught of our opponents."

And he set out the Lib Dem vision for "Britain as a positive force for peace, international development and shared security", in contrast to a government that had made "the single biggest British foreign policy mistake since Suez. It leaves us feeling not just angry with the Government but downright ashamed of our Government. "

"Tony Blair says that 'history' will be his judge.", said Kennedy. "He is wrong - the British people will be his judge. It is this Labour Government which took the decision to send our troops to Iraq, with the full support of the Conservative party. At this election both should be held accountable."

He concluded by outlining the positive role that a greatly strengthened Liberal Democrat party can play in the next parliament -- as "the real alternative, making [the] case for social fairness, for the environment, for the restoration of the rule of law and a better, more balanced international order - and for liberty."

This evening in Cambridge the momentum is very much with the Liberal Democrat campaign.

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