British Parties in Final Push for Votes
Britain's party leaders launched a hectic final push for votes before Thursday's general election, insisting the result was not the foregone victory for Prime Minister Tony Blair predicted by pollsters.
In a round of interviews and press conferences, Blair urged supporters of his governing Labour Party to simply turn out to vote, warning that complacency could turn the clock back and let the opposition Conservatives return to power.
The latest opinion poll showed William Hague's Tories closing to within 11 points of Labour, the closest they have come since the election campaign began more than four weeks ago.
Hague said the "forces of conservatism" once mocked by the premier were now back "on the march."
"If you have had enough of arrogance, and spin and broken promises, if you want a government that offers you only what it can deliver I say vote for what you value," he told an audience in London.
Blair, Hague and Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy were all to travel hundreds of miles (kilometres) in punishing schedules on their final day.
Campaigning is forbidden on polling day.
Irritated by predictions of a landslide victory for his party, Blair urged people to vote, as a predicted poor turnout would hurt his party most.
"Political history is littered with examples of so-called sure things which didn't turn out to be sure things," he told GMTV television.
Later, in his final news conference, he said: "We have a long way still to go but Britain is a more civilised and decent place than four years ago.
"We ask people to let us continue the job we have begun (...) Let us get in the investment in public services.
The centre of Labour's re-election strategy has been its promise to invest in public services, notably health and education, with tens of thousands extra staff and a package of wide-ranging internal reforms.
It says its handling of the economy in its first term -- interest rates and unemployment down, investment and incomes up -- means it can now push on with making Britain a fairer place for all.
As well as health and education, it means tackling poverty, reducing social exclusion and aiming toward full employment -- LONDON (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)