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General election 2019: Labour and Conservative party campaigns off to a bumpy start

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After a stuttering start for the Conservative Party on day one of the election campaign, Labour followed suit on day two with an equally uncertain start.

Its efforts to get on the front foot were somewhat derailed - and like the Conservatives, it had to deal with the headlines dominated not by people who were standing but by people who were not.

The Lib Dems are targetting victory in Tunbridge Wells
The Lib Dems are targetting victory in Tunbridge Wells

The unexpected departure from frontline politics of Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson and a call by a former minister to back Boris Johnson were not quite what the party wanted as a backdrop to its campaign.

There were some predictable tit-for-tat exchanges about their different pledges to invest billions of pounds in public services too - with the Conservatives seemingly having a magic money tree they often taunt Labour about.

The specifics of their announcements were rather lost, but both parties didn't seem to be bothered as this was all about making the right noises on the key issue of economic competence.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats announced details of its non-aggression pact with the Green Party and the list of constituencies included one in Kent.

But it wasn't the one that many thought it should have been.

The party said it had an agreement in Tunbridge Wells with the Green Party standing aside to enhance the prospects of the Liberal Democrats and the possibility of returning a 'remain' MP.

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Its inclusion in the list surprised some, as many think it would serve their purposes better if there was a deal in Canterbury.

On paper it is hard to see the justification: at the last election, the Liberal Democrats came in third in Tunbridge Wells, while the Green Party picked up a fairly miserly 1,400 votes.

But the Conservatives are privately a little nervous about a revolt in a true blue heartland, fearing that the electorate will "do a Canterbury" on them.

The anxiety is driven by the similarity with Canterbury and its changing social demographic makeup.

Having said that, the Conservative candidate Greg Clark is an 'out and out ‘remainer' so the logic is a little flawed.

Meanwhile, Labour has announced long-awaited news about its candidates in various Kent seats.

A trio of Medway councillors will stand in the three constituencies covering the Medway Towns: Vince Maple will contest Chatham and Aylesford; Teresa Murray will stand in Rochester and Strood, and Andy Stamp is the candidate in Gillingham and Rainham.

A fourth Medway councillor, Clive Johnson, has been picked for Sittingbourne and Sheppey.

It is hard not to sense that Labour has lost some ground by not having candidates in place in these constituencies which they have previously held.

Can they build enough momentum in the coming weeks to present a challenge to the Conservative Party?

It would seem unlikely, but then this is a campaign which has already confounded expectations.

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