Tory candidates pitch themselves as ‘local champions’ in bid to bypass national woes | Politics News

Conservative candidates in two constituencies have appeared to suggest in campaign literature that their party will not form the next government – and people should vote for them as “local champions”.

In a letter to constituents seen by Sky News, Paul Bristow, the Tory candidate for Peterborough, says the general election “may change the country – but don’t let it put Peterborough’s progress at risk”.

“More than ever, we will need a local champion in parliament who is on your side,” he continues.

“Someone who is fighting your corner – whether that’s with the Labour-led council or the next government.”

Simon Fell, the Conservative candidate and most recent MP for Barrow-in-Furness, also asks voters to consider local issues when casting their ballot on 4 July, writing: “You’ve seen the polls, you’ve heard the commentators.

“You know who they say is going to win the national election. But your vote means more than that. Your vote is about what happens locally.”

It comes after Robert Largan, who is fighting to retain the red wall seat of High Peak for the Conservatives, published a number of campaign materials in the colours of Labour and Reform UK.

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Mr Largan’s graphics also include the phrases “Labour for Largan” and “Reform for Robert”.

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In one social media post, Mr Largan says: “So many local Labour voters have told me they’re going to vote for me, because they want to keep me as their local MP.

“There have been so many that I’m launching a new Labour for Largan club.”

A social media post about the Reform Party also linked to Mr Largan’s campaign page, which states: “Reform supporters right across the High Peak are voting local on Thursday 4th July and backing Robert Largan. Will you?”

A spokesman for Mr Largan denied he had done anything wrong, saying all his election leaflets clearly stated he was the Tory candidate and they complied with electoral law.

“As Mr Largan’s social media posts and website make abundantly clear, large numbers of traditional Labour voters have been contacting him to tell him they plan to vote for him, despite him being a Conservative candidate,” a statement said.

“The same goes for Reform supporters. This is because of Mr Largan’s strong record of delivery in the High Peak.

“Therefore, supporters clubs of traditional Labour and Reform voters have been set up, to allow people to tell Mr Largan that they’re supporting him.

“These are called Labour for Largan and Reform for Robert. Such supporters clubs are not a new phenomenon.”

Derbyshire Police confirmed it was reviewing a Conservative candidate’s campaign adverts after receiving allegations of election fraud.

“We wish to confirm that we have received a number of messages in relation to claims of election fraud, raised due to concerns around marketing material,” the force said in a statement.

“An incident has been created and will be reviewed.”

According to Sky News’s official poll tracker, the Tories continue to trail 21 points behind Labour, at 23.6% of the vote, compared with 44.5% for their opponents.

A separate poll from Opinium has also shown Labour’s lead has grown by six points in the last week and is now at a high not seen since Liz Truss’s premiership.

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The poll’s voting intention revealed that 4% more voters have said they will vote Labour, while the Tory vote share has dropped 2%.

However, 43% of voters think Labour’s campaign has been a success so far, while a third (32%) do not. For Mr Sunak, 61% do not think the Conservative campaign has been successful, while 20% think it has been.

Mr Bristow declined to comment. Sky News has approached Mr Fell and the Conservatives for comment.

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The candidates standing for election in Peterborough are:

  • Conservatives – Paul Bristow
  • Green Party – Nicola Day
  • Workers Party of Britain – Clayton Maxwell Payne
  • Reform – Sue Morris
  • Labour – Andrew Pakes
  • Christian People’s Alliance -Tom Rogers
  • Liberal Democrats – Nick Sandford

The candidates standing in Barrow-in-Furness are:

  • Conservatives – Simon Fell
  • Reform – Barry Morgan
  • Labour – Michelle Scrogham
  • Liberal Democrats – Adrian Waite
  • Green Party – Lorraine Wrennall

The candidates standing in High Peak are:

  • Green Party – Joanna Wiehe Collins
  • Reform – Catherine Cullen
  • Conservatives – Robert Largan
  • Labour – Jonathan Brian Pearce

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