TIM Farron’s campaign to retain Westmorland and Lonsdale has received an unlikely boost from his former Labour opponent in the 2005 General Election.

In an open letter to voters, John Reardon urged people not to support his old party but instead to cast their votes for the Liberal Democrats to ‘keep out the Conservatives’.

“I am writing to you asking you to support Tim and the Liberal Democrats at this election,” writes Mr Reardon.

“Labour cannot win in Westmorland, as I learned with only seven per cent of the vote last time. Every vote for Labour will just help the Tories win Westmorland.

“I’m asking you to use your vote to make sure we keep the Tories out.”

Mr Reardon is endorsing the Lib Dem campaign even though he is standing as a Green Party candidate in Carlisle.

Today’s Westmorland and Lonsdale Labour candidate, Jonathan Todd, said he had ‘no idea’ why Mr Reardon had ‘taken against’ his former party.

“He’s all over the place, standing in 2005 as a Labour candidate and now urging people to vote Liberal Democrat while standing for the Green Party.

“He says this is about voting tactically, but I don’t believe in tactical voting.”

Mr Farron also received a surprising fillip from Conservative supporter George Crossman, who has launched a ‘Tories for Tim’ campaign.

In another open letter being circulated by the Lib Dems, Mr Crossman tells voters: “Even though I've been a Conservative all my life, I am going to do the right thing in this election and cast my vote for Tim. "I'm not voting for a party, I'm voting for Tim on a personal basis.”

Mr Crossman, who once stood as a Conservative in South Lakes local elections, adds: “I've never had an MP before that I could truly say I was proud of.

“I know that thousands of Conservative-minded people locally think the same.”

However, Tory candidate Gareth McKeever has also benefited from a political shift.

Les Lishman, a former Lib Dem county councillor from South Lakeland, has come out in support of the Conservative campaign.

“I think Mr McKeever is a gentleman and I believe in Conservative policies at the moment,” said Mr Lishman.

Mr McKeever said: “I am spending my time focusing on winning here in South Lakeland, “The choice at this election is between a Conservative government or a hung parliament with the Labour Party still in power.”