Dirty tactics’ accusations after email from councillor who quit Labour party circulated to residents.

Labour has accused the Lib Dems of ‘dirty tactics’ after an email from an independent councillor who defected from Ed Miliband’s party was circulated to voters.

Stockport Councillor Laura Booth, who quit Labour last year after claims of ‘bullying’, is backing Lib Dem Lisa Smart for the Hazel Grove parliamentary seat.

Residents have now received the letter and email after it was circulated by the Lib Dems.

Coun Booth sits in the town hall as an independent after dropping her bid to become Labour’s MP for Hazel Grove next month when she left the party.

But Labour members, including General Election candidate Michael Taylor, have blasted her for ‘misleading’ residents, claiming her email deliberately ‘confuses’ voters into thinking a Labour councillor is backing a Lib Dem – and that the party has given up in Hazel Grove.

The email states: “This is the hardest email I’ve ever had to write. I’ve been a life-long supporter of the Labour movement.

“I was selected a year and a half ago to represent the Labour Party as our potential MP. But for the first time in my life I will not be voting Labour at the elections on May 7. I’ll be backing Lisa Smart to be our MP.

“It really is a two-horse race in our constituency, Labour are out of the race and can’t win here.”

Labour’s general election candidate for Hazel Grove, Michael Taylor

Mr Taylor said: “No Labour member is saying ‘vote for the Lib Dems’. This is just an independent councillor who sits with the Lib Dems, endorsing them.

“There isn’t a single Labour person in the Hazel Grove constituency who is backing the Lib Dem candidate; quite the reverse. The email is deliberately confusing and malicious and designed to confuse voters into thinking the Labour candidate has given up.

“Laura Booth left the Labour party last September – nowhere does she say that. We have evidence of people who have been misled and are angry about this.”

Ms Smart, who is hoping to keep the seat for the Lib Dems, said: “Hazel Grove has always been a clear fight between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives and all polls suggest it is neck-and-neck this time.

“More and more Labour supporters are backing me to win this time and I’m delighted that Laura is one of them.”

Mr Taylor added: “The reverse is true. If more and more Labour supporters are migrating to the Lib Dems, why do they have to pretend this independent councillor is a Labour member? She’s a Lib Dem in all but name.”

Coun Booth was unavailable for comment.