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Monday, May 3, 1999 Published at 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK

Blair warns against voter apathy

Tony Blair: Vigilant against complacency

Prime Minister Tony Blair has made a televised appeal to urge Labour voters to turn out in the local elections.

In a recognition that Labour sees its greatest danger as a low turn-out, Mr Blair used a party political broadcast on Tuesday to urge people not to "risk" Labour's successes.

He said: "We've been a government for two years now; your mortgages are at the lowest level for over 30 years; we've got huge new investment coming into our schools and hospitals; a statutory national minimum wage for the first time in Britain and the biggest-ever increase in child benefit.

"Don't put all this at risk, we need local and national government working together.

"The Conservatives are a mess. We can offer the leadership this country needs but we need you to come out and support us in the local elections this Thursday."

A Labour spokesman said: "The big issue for us is going to be turn-out. There is a sense abroad amongst Labour voters that they finished the job two years ago.

"We need to say to those Labour voters that there are good reasons to come out."

Tories urge 'final push'

[ image: Michael Ancram: Predicting Tory gains]
Michael Ancram: Predicting Tory gains
The Tories, in particular, are hopeful that complacency among Labour voters could help their efforts to regain lost ground.

Conservative Party Chairman Michael Ancram has urged Tory activists to make a "final push" for victory.

"This week's local council elections offer us an unrivalled opportunity to re-establish the Conservative Party as the natural party of local government," he said.

"Labour's obsession with grabbing more power for the men in Whitehall contrasts sharply with the Tory creed of putting local people and their communities in charge of local services.

"And Labour's catalogue of waste and corruption in town halls it controls gives the lie to Tony Blair's pledge to clean-up local government."

He said "substantial gains" were within the grasp of the Tory party.

Commentators predict a turn-out of between 20% to 30% in the local elections.

This would be slightly down on the 32% recorded at the local elections last year - but on that occasion there were elections in London which increased the average as turn-out in the capital is traditionally higher than elsewhere.

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