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Denham slams Tories for ‘hedging their bets’
TORY parliamentary candidates in Southampton have been accused of wanting to be “part-time” MPs amid a row over Labour scaremongering.
Labour’s Itchen candidate John Denham, the city’s MP since 1992, said: “Either they don’t think they can win, or they want to be part-time MPs. I think the city deserves serious candidates.”
Cllr Smith, who is up for re-election in Harefield, said he wanted to be a hard working backbench MP and also being a councillor would make it easier to help with local issues.
Cllr Smith said: “I would continue to work diligently as a councillor until I reached a natural break. If it proved too difficult or incompatible I would stand down (as a councillor) after the first year.”
Cllr Moulton said if elected to both offices he would stand down as a Freemantle councillor at the next local elections in 2011 to avoid the costs of a by-election.
"I would use my position to ensure Southampton and the council gets the best possible deal from the Government," he said, adding he would work for free on the council for the year.
Mr Denham was a sitting local councillor, not due for re-election, when he stood to become an MP in the 1983, 1987 and 1992 general elections.
The row comes as the Conservatives accused Labour of spreading misleading campaign leaflets. David Cameron branded some of them “pure and simple lies”.
The Tories deny planning to axe perks for the elderly, including winter fuel payments, free bus passes, free TV licences, free eye tests and free prescriptions.
In Southampton Mr Denham has been criticised for his “save our Sure Start” campaign and petition. He claims the Tory threat to cut £200m from the national Sure Start budget could mean the closure of up to one in five centres.
Mr Denham said: “The centres we’ve got across Southampton help thousands of families every day – giving children the best possible start in life and changing lives for the better.
“Mums and dads are always shocked on the doorstep to hear the Tories want to cut Sure Start services. They know that’s not right, I know that’s not right.”
But Cllr Smith accused him of scaremongering. “We’ve made it absolutely clear that we are committed to the future of Sure Start family centres.
“In fact we propose to improve them by using extra health visitors. John Denham is causing unnecessary anxiety to hundreds of Southampton families by trying to whip up this hysteria. He should stop it and stop it now before any more damage is done.”