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Hertford and Stortford opposition parties open to tactical voting

Opposition parties have welcomed the Conservatives' by-election defeats, with Labour calling for tactical voting in the Hertford and Stortford constituency to unseat MP Julie Marson at the next General Election.

Last Thursday (June 23) the Tories suffered a resounding double defeat as the Liberal Democrats took Tiverton and Honiton in Devon in an historic win and Labour returned to power in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Hertford and Stortford Labour said: "These by-election defeats will only make Boris Johnson's position more precarious and inflame divisions within a toxic Conservative Party. In stark contrast to Johnson's attempts at self-preservation, Keir Starmer is a Prime Minister in waiting, concentrated on the cost of living crisis and determined to rebuild Britain after 12 years of Tory failure.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Hertford and Stortford MP Julie Marson (57584446)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Hertford and Stortford MP Julie Marson (57584446)

"Boris Johnson's Conservatives are the party of low growth, high inflation, high tax and more poverty, and last week's by-elections have shown that the country is tired of a Government mired in scandal and bereft of ideas.

"Labour's victory in Wakefield proves we are now a credible opposition, focused on the issues that matter to people across the country and ready to deliver security, prosperity and respect for Britain in government. Boris Johnson and the Conservatives should consider themselves on notice.

"The Labour Party has retained second place in Hertford and Stortford at every General Election since 2015, with the Liberal Democrats slipping into fourth that year. We know that residents deserve better, and a tactical vote for Labour could replace our Tory MP with an MP focused on their needs.

Julie Marson campaigning with Boris Johnson in Dagenham and Rainham for the 2017 General Election (57584539)
Julie Marson campaigning with Boris Johnson in Dagenham and Rainham for the 2017 General Election (57584539)

"As the main opposition in the constituency, Labour stands ready to challenge Julie Marson's appalling record at the next election and put forward a plan to meet the needs of our communities. We plan to spend the run-up to that election speaking to residents about their concerns, not to other political parties about deals."

Bishop's Stortford's Liberal Democrat councillors Calvin Horner, Mione Goldspink, Chris Wilson, Richard Townsend, Terence Beckett and Bob Taylor said: "These defeats demonstrate that Boris Johnson has lost the support of both traditional Conservative voters and recently 'converted' Labour voters. He is neither trusted nor respected. He needs to listen to what the electorate is saying, show some humility and either formulate a proper plan for leading the country or resign.

"The message to the Government is that the voters are dissatisfied with its failure to progress with the 'levelling up' agenda. People in the Red Wall constituencies feel let down and abandoned.

"The cost-of-living crisis is hitting very hard and the blanket one-off payment to rich and poor alike makes no sense. Restoring the uplift to Universal Credit would be very much better. The large windfall of VAT receipts on fuel prices/duty could be used immediately to help those in poverty. But the Government seems to be callously uncaring towards ordinary people and devoid of any coherent policy to help.

Julie Marson with Hertford and Stortford Conservatives, following the vote to select her as their PPC (57584542)
Julie Marson with Hertford and Stortford Conservatives, following the vote to select her as their PPC (57584542)

"Tactical voting, such as seen in these two by-elections, is a definite possibility in many more constituencies across the country. So yes – it might even happen in Hertford and Stortford. That is the right of local voters should they wish to exercise it.

"The opposition parties in Hertford and Stortford each have their own distinctive philosophies and policies and we think that they should be presented honestly and separately to the electorate. So, we would not envisage any formal co-operation. If we had a fair voting system this question would not even arise."

Martin Butcher, for East Herts Green Party, said: "The stunning defeats of the Conservatives in the Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield by-elections leave Boris Johnson weakened, clinging to power only because his rivals prefer that he take the blame for 12 years of misrule that has brought an economy sliding into recession with runaway inflation, a shattered NHS and soaring poverty with no relief in sight.

"The voters are clearly saying enough is enough. Enough lies. Enough of Partygate. No more defunding schools, NHS and other public services. No more polluting rivers and beaches so water companies' profits can soar. Enough tax cuts for billionaires while ordinary people suffer because of soaring energy costs.

"The Red Wall has rejected the man who promised to 'get Brexit done' and failed. The Blue Wall has rejected the chaos, the lies, the corruption in public office and the failure to address the problems they face.

"Could this happen in Hertford and Stortford? Tiverton and Honiton is very similar to our home. The Tories can be beaten here. Where they are challenged by other parties at local elections the Tories often lose.

"The Conservatives ignore local wishes to impose inappropriate development on our towns. They refuse to act to defend our environment. They do nothing for local people struggling to get by. We have a remote MP who does not know and cannot represent us. A similar political earthquake could happen in Hertford and Stortford.

"The Green Party is always willing to co-operate with others who want to act for change for the better.

"We want to address the climate crisis that threatens our long-term future and the economic crisis that hurts us now. We work for transformative policies to achieve those goals and recognise co-operation across party lines is the best way to do that at local and national levels."

Julie Marson and the Hertford & Stortford Conservative Association were also invited to comment but have not responded.

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