TAUNTON Deane’s Lib-Dem MP has accused the Conservatives of trying to “buy” the seat at next year’s General Election.
Jeremy Browne made the accusation following a press report that Rebecca Pow, who is standing against him, has been given almost £25,000 to help fund her campaign.
The Observer newspaper claimed cash to fund prospective Tory MPs fighting marginal constituencies has come from an organisation called the United & Cecil Club and an annual fund-raising dinner.
Mr Browne, who has served as a Minister in the Foreign Office and Home Office in the Coalition Government, won the seat in 2005 and again in 2010.
He said: “The Conservatives always seem to think Taunton Deane is for sale to the highest bidder.
“They have a different candidate at every General Election and they try and buy that candidate a seat in the House of Com-mons.
“I hope that Taunton Deane residents will believe that they are better served by a long-standing local Member of Parliament with a consistent track record of commitment to our community.”
Ms Pow, whose varied career has included campaigns and presenting TV gardening programmes, is aiming to become only the second woman to represent Taunton Deane following LibDem Jackie Ballard, who served from 1997 to 2001.
“The overwhelming majority of donations I have received for my campaign have come from friends and party members living in Taunton Deane,” said Ms Pow.
“The donations I have received are spent on campaigning for, and with, local people on issues affecting us living in Taunton Deane.
“The supporters who donate do so because they support me as a candidate and because they want to see a Conserva-tive Government elected next year, which means winning back Taunton Deane.
"We do not have access to the millions that the trade unions put into the Labour Party or the resources and facilities that sitting Members of Parliament have access to.”
Mr Browne polled 28,531 votes at the last election, ahead of the Conservatives’ Mark For-mosa on 24,538.
He unseated Tory Adrian Flook back in 2005 when he secured 25,764 votes against the then MP’s 25,191.