The Salford Green Party have accused the Liberal Democrats of betraying their members after the former opposition to Labour pulled all candidates from competing for the city’s 21 seats.
The Lib Dems’ complete withdrawal from the area is a culmination of a damaging decade, with heavy seat losses and numerous defectors all but decimating its local presence.
Wendy Olsen, Greens’ mayoral and Irwell Riverside candidate, believes her party is now well placed to step up and hold Labour to account.
“I was amazed to see the decline of the Liberal Democrats, but people have rejected them because they betrayed their own members,” she told MM.
“When they joined the Conservatives in the coalition, it was a programme that people in Salford just don’t favour – including the local Liberal Democrats.
“The Greens have always been attractive to people who favour Lib Dems. That has always been a little overlap area, and I think some voters would come over to Green.
“We are very attractive to liberals – we are a national party with a very clear policy which is legitimate, democratic and well informed. It’s a reassuring party.
“But I don’t think voters are so predictable. The people of Salford really think about what they want from their government.”
The Lib Dem announcement came just a week after party leader Tim Farron told MM of his intentions to target Manchester as a source of a fightback against Labour’s dominance.
Despite saying that the city was vital in combating Labour’s ‘one-party state’ – which he compared to North Korea – the Lib Dems conceded that a tough few years in safe Labour seat Salford necessitates time out to regroup.
“After a bruising few years, it is inevitable that it will take us some years to fully build back,” a Lib Dem spokesman told MM.
“We are committed that before long Liberal Democrats will be fighting every seat across Greater Manchester, including Salford.
“People are rightly fed up with Labour’s one-party state in many parts of the city and we will be fighting to make sure there is genuine opposition.
“It will be the Liberal Democrats who will break this unhealthy deadlock on democracy.”
As well as Ms Olsen, three other candidates will now battle to replace inaugural mayor Ian Stewart on May 5.
Stewart’s close ally Paul Dennett will represent Labour, with Robin Garrido the Conservative Party choice and Owen Hammond standing for UKIP.
Image courtesy of Salford Green Party, via YouTube, with thanks