By Tim Montgomerie
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Earlier in the week I noted that Nick Clegg was struggling to find people willing to be Liberal Democrat council candidates. In one good sign of the Conservative Party's grassroots health Conservative HQ has just announced that we'll be contesting 97.1% of this year's round of local council elections. That compares with 95.8% four years ago and 86.5% in 2004.
Labour is contesting 95.5% of wards – up from 88.9% four years ago.
The Lib Dems, in contrast, are fighting just 70.5% of the wards. Four years ago they fought 78.5%. these stats will add to speculation that Cegg's party membership is in a demoralised state.
In Wales the Conservative Party seems to have more trouble fielding candidates. We are contesting just 46.7% of contests in the principality next month but that is up six points on last time.
If you weren't tuned in yesterday evening please click here to watch the Tories' first broadcast for these elections. Labour's broadcast focuses entirely on the NHS. Our broadcast – fronted by Eric Pickles and the Prime Minister – focused on local issues and council tax.