UK leaders in frantic last minute polls push
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Last Updated: Wednesday, May 05, 2010, 13:44
  
London: Britain's main party leaders will crisscross the country Wednesday on a frantic last day of campaigning, as the closest election battle for a generation enters its final strait.

David Cameron, whose Conservative party are ahead in opinion polls, embarked on a 24-hour battlebus tour late Tuesday in a bid to fulfil a commitment to visit every part of Britain.

Cameron's all-night campaigning push ahead of the vote Thursday takes him through northern and central England, into Wales, before finishing in the city of Bristol, southwest England.

"We are going at it all night, all day, all next day, all the way through to polling day," he said at a rally in Renfrewshire, Scotland.

"That is how we are going to win the election."

The Conservatives are fighting to oust the ruling Labour Party after 13 years in power.

They are ahead in opinion polls, although a wide lead they held several months ago has been whittled down to a few points ahead of polling day.

Most surveys now indicate the Tories would not win enough seats in the House of Commons to be able to form a government on their own, leading to a hung parliament.

Brown, fighting to secure a historic fourth term in office for Labour, also had a hectic schedule ahead on Wednesday, taking him through northern England and Scotland.

At a campaign rally late Tuesday in Manchester, northwest England, Brown appealed to voters to "come home" to the party.

"When the last 48 hours of this campaign has passed, in that one minute in the polling booth vote for the kind of country you believe in, and come home to Labour," he said.

But even as the prime minister sought to deliver a rousing message to potential backers, cracks began to show in his party's unity with senior figures putting out conflicting messages on the issue of tactial voting.

Cabinet ministers Ed Balls and Peter Hain signalled Labour supporters should cast their ballots for Nick Clegg's centrist Liberal Democrats in seats where it was a tight race between the Lib Dems and the Tories.

Tactical voting in the swing constituencies, which essentially decide the results of British elections, could keep the Conservatives out of power, they suggested.

"Of course I want the Labour candidate to win but I understand people's concerns about letting the Conservatives in," said Balls, who is education minister.

He also urged Lib Dem supporters to "bite their lip" and vote for Labour in seats where it was a tight race between the governing party and the Conservatives, in comments to the New Statesman magazine.

But Labour campaign coordinator, Douglas Alexander, appeared to disgree with his colleague, warning: "If you vote for the Liberal Democrats you could wake up on Friday morning and see a Conservative-led government, including Liberal Democrats."

Clegg dismissed the suggestion that voters should use the ballots tactically and blasted it as "another sign of Labour's desperation."

His party has enjoyed a surge of support in the election campaign on the back of his performance in TV debates, and he is anxious to avoid tactical voting, fearing it could dent his party's share of the popular vote.

This would damage his negotiating power in the event of a hung parliament, with commentators suggesting he could hold the balance of power.

On the campaign trail in Glasgow, Scotland, Clegg urged voters to back his party to usher in a "new kind of politics" -- one of his party's main policies is reform of the voting system towards proportional representation.

"Support us. Support us in our campaign in these vital last crucial hours of the election campaign and deliver the fairness, the difference, the real change that I think Glasgow and Britain deserve."

Bureau Report


First Published: Wednesday, May 05, 2010, 13:44


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