MADAM – I was most interested to read the letter in the SNJ of August 20 which reflects on the message to be gained from the recent Valley by-election in respect of the state of the parties in Stroud ahead of next year’s General Election.

I was also interested to note comments on the subject by Labour chairman Dick Greenslade on the Stroud Labour Party website, and letters published recently by former Stroud town councillor Carol Kambites of the Green Party and Stroud district councillor Steve Lydon of the Labour Party.

What is very clear is that the 2015 contest will be one of the most interesting for a very long time, indeed perhaps even the most interesting general election contest which has ever taken place in Stroud.

Labour in Stroud are resurgent and gaining in confidence, as evidenced by their impressive performance in Valley.

In what amounts in effect to a Civil War on the left, Labour clearly intends to Hoover up votes from the Greens who they, with some justification, blame for having split the left wing vote in 2010, thereby handing the seat to a Conservative MP.

In a further development, both the Greens and Labour are seeking to benefit from the implosion of the Liberal Democrats, and each attract as much as possible of that party’s significant 2010 vote of 8,955.

That only leaves Ukip and the Conservatives.

If, as seems likely, former Green and Liberal Democrat voters will vote tactically for Labour at the General Election as by far the strongest of those three parties in an endeavour to regain the seat for the radical left, then all those in Stroud who do not subscribe to these beliefs and who do not wish our country to be saddled once more with a Labour government must likewise vote tactically in order to prevent this scenario unfolding.

Given the Conservatives’ current low standing locally and their abysmal performance in the recent by-election in being knocked into fourth place by newcomers Ukip, the only chance that I can see of stopping Labour from taking Stroud on a broad Left ticket and abetting the return of a Labour government will be for all those voters who do not wish this to happen, however they may previously have voted, to get behind Ukip and vote for Ukip’s candidate next May.

Brian Cooke