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General Election 2024: Campaigns shift up a gear as major parties launch battle buses

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The general election campaign has stepped up a gear with both the Conservatives and Labour launching their battle buses.

A sizeable coach, emblazoned in party colours and slogans, is a mainstay of the campaign trail dating back decades.

The Liberal Democrats launched theirs on Sunday last week.

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Labour has claimed deputy leader Angela Rayner will be travelling 5,000 miles across the UK in their bus over the course of the election campaign to win over voters.

Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves were also present at the event in west London.

The Tories held their unveiling at the opposite end of the country in North Yorkshire.

Rishi Sunak used the launch to attack Labour – claiming it was “clear” Ms Rayner “is in charge of the party” rather than Sir Keir.

The Conservative coach is a 68-plate Mercedes-Benz Tourismo, and features the party’s election slogan of “clear plan, bold action, secure future”.

It is compliant with London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

Mr Sunak’s attack follows the row over whether Dianne Abbott would be endorsed as a Labour candidate in the general election.

Sir Keir was asked about this at his bus launch – but gave short shrift to the quarrel which threatened to derail the first full week of campaigning.

“I dealt with that issue yesterday,” Sir Keir said, before trying to change the subject.

He moved on to put the case that today was about “taking our argument to the country and getting people back to work”.

Ms Rayner’s bus is an 11-year-old Yutong, a Chinese brand of coach. It, too, is ULEZ-compliant.


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Labour's battle bus. Pic: PA
Image:
Labour’s battle bus. Pic: PA

The Liberal Democrats’ launch took place near Cambridge last weekend.

Sir Ed Davey revealed the vehicle had been dubbed “Yellow hammer 1” – and that it would be used to knock down the Blue Wall.

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It also bears a resemblance to Operation Yellowhammer, which was the government’s worst-case scenario plan for a no-deal Brexit.

The Belgian Van Hool bus is, like the others, able to travel into London’s ULEZ without having to pay the charge.

Sir Ed was not campaigning this week – saying he was taking time to look after his son, who has “severe physical and learning disabilities”.

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‘Liberal Democrats are go!’

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party began a campaign tour earlier in the week, and has seen the party’s honorary leader joined by party leader Richard Tice and MP Lee Anderson on board the open-top bus.

George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain hosted a campaign launch on Saturday as well, where the party leader attacked the two main parties.

He criticised Sir Keir and Mr Sunak for their similarities to Tony Blair, before saying he would launch legal action against ITV and Ofcom on Monday in an attempt to be included in the upcoming leaders’ debates.

He did not appear to have a branded battle bus.

The Scottish National Party has not revealed a battle bus either.

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