The Times reports that Labour has already thrown in the towel in four out of ten town hall seats to be fought in the local government elections on May 3.
"Amid fears that it is facing one of its worst electoral drubbings, the party will contest only 60 per cent of the seats up for grabs, the lowest figure since Tony Blair came to power. In some areas it has been unable to find a candidate."
In Thanet, a quick run through the register shows an almost 50/50 split but overall, The Times reports that Labour is contesting only 6,360 seats, down nearly 5 per cent since similar elections four years ago. The Conservatives are contesting 88 per cent (9,264), higher than 2003, while the Liberal Democrats are fielding candidates in 64 per cent (6,667).
Conservative figures show that the BNP is running 717 candidates (one in Margate)while UKIP is fielding 805, though the party says it is contesting more than 1,000 seats.
Rob Hayward, a local government analyst, said the proportion of seats contested by Labour was the lowest of any set of elections while Tony Blair has been in power. “It is the lowest percentage since Tony Blair took power and probably in the last 20 years. It reflects the current state of politics and the relative weakness of the Labour Party.”
Lord Bruce-Lockhart, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “It shows a worrying lack of belief in local democracy.”
Ed: I'm seeing some of this on the doorstep with people feeling disempowered by politics rather than the opposite.
Meanwhile, if government couldn't be less popular, news that thousands of families face the prospect of being hit by a new tax blow following a landmark ruling.
Up to 500,000 families have entered into arrangements to protect them against inheritance tax. The scheme involved splitting the value of a property between a husband and wife, aimed at lessening the tax burden. The Inland Revenue have now closed this avenue of escape.