Labour U-turn on mayor mailshots

Government ministers have signalled that they will allow free mailshots in the London mayoral elections, following a heavy defeat in the House of Lords on Tuesday night.

Candidates in General, European, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Ireland and European Elections are allowed one free mailshot, although they have to pay for the literature enclosed in it. Labour said these rules should not apply in London because the mailshot could cost up to £15m and it is only a “local” election.

Both arguments have been dismissed by the opposition, which believes the costs would be much lower, and that the mayoral elections are more important than council ones.

On Tuesday, the opposition parties defeated Labour in two votes by majorities of 65 and 63. They insisted they would continue to obstruct these two pieces of legislation until the Government agreed that candidates in the London mayoral elections be allowed free mailshots.

Environment Minister Lord Whitty said the Government would be “quite happy” to listen to compromise proposals, shortly before the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats united to vote down two pieces of legislation needed to allow the election to take place. An offer could be made to the opposition parties next week.

One suggested compromise would involve candidates being allowed free mailshots, but with all leaflets from different candidates being sent to London’s 5 million voters in the same envelope.

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