AN ACCUSATION by Conservative Paul Raynes that Romsey Liberal Democrats and Labour have made an informal pact has been denied by MP Sandra Gidley.

Paul, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Romsey, has sent a letter addressed jointly to Sandra Gidley Liberal MP and Labour prospective parliamentary candidate Stephen Roberts.

Paul Raynes' letter quotes a joint article for The Times by Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, and Liberal Democrat front bencher Menzies Campbell, published last week in The Times. It says: "Our co-operation should not be seen as an exercise in short-term political management but as a continuing contribution towards a new style of politics in Britain".

The article is an extract from a chapter in a book called The Progressive Century: The future of the Centre-Left in Britain, which is due to be published in the spring.

A copy of the letter sent by Mr Raynes to Sandra Gidley and Stephen Roberts has been sent to The Romsey Advertiser. In the accompanying press release Paul says: "Liberals and Labour should admit their links and stop insulting the intelligence of their constituents.

"Liberals and Labour vote the same way in the House of Commons seven times out of 10. The Liberals would love to be part of a coalition propping up Tony Blair.

"And now we have a cardboard cut-out Labour candidate in Romsey. I have made enquiries and it seems he hasn't even taken the trouble to set up an office or acquire a telephone number."

That's why, Paul Raynes said, he had written to both the Liberal Democrat MP and the Labour prospective parliamentary candidate at the Liberal Democrat office.

He added, "We all know that voting Liberal is a way to keep Tony Blair in Downing Street. We all know that our Liberal MP dutifully follows Tony Blair into the voting lobbies."

The time had come, he said, to show a bit of respect for local people's intelligence and admit that a Liberal vote is a vote for Tony Blair.

"Mind you, our Liberal MP is happy to go on TV and compare a perfectly pleasant part of Bassett with a lawless south London council estate. We probably can't expect her to show more respect for people's intelligence than she shows for the place they live."

Responding to the letter from Paul Raynes, Sandra Gidley accused him of "once again, twisting facts" and insulting the Labour candidate and herself.

"I am saddened by these childish antics which divert attention from the real political issues," she said.

"Mr Raynes represents a Conservative Opposition which has nothing to say and becomes more unelectable by the day. He persists in misquoting and producing inaccurate messages and never presents positive policies or alternatives.

"As the general election approaches, people will see just how unelectable the Conservatives have become and Mr Raynes will return to his home in London."

In her letter to Paul Raynes, Sandra Gidley said,"There is no such pact."

Her party holds discussions on issues and policies of mutual interest with all parties, she said.

"I would remind you of the Liberal Demo-crat/Conservative joint administration on Test Valley Borough Council from May 1995 to May 1997.

"You really do need to make sure you are properly briefed before putting pen to paper in future. I would suggest you abandon your tribalism. In today's political world, co-operation between mature politicians on issues of mutual agreement is becoming the norm.The public are turned off by petty tribalisms and want to see politicians working together for the good of the people.

"As a matter of record, the Liberal Democrats, in the last session of Parliament, voted with the Conservative, (hence against Labour) in 60 per cent of divisions. I can assure you that this does not mean that we have a pact with the Conservatives."