Page last updated at 16:39 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 17:39 UK

Lib Dems 'can still win in Crewe'

Elizabeth Shenton and Nick Clegg
Mr Clegg will visit on Wednesday to campaign with Ms Shenton

The Liberal Democrats have said they can win the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, insisting the race is "much tighter" than polls suggest.

A spokesman for Lib Dem candidate Elizabeth Shenton predicted a number of "hardcore" Labour voters would defect to the party on Thursday.

Leader Nick Clegg is visiting the constituency on Wednesday to campaign.

Recent opinion polls have put the Conservatives in the lead, with Labour in second place and the Lib Dems third.

'Positive campaign'

But Ms Shenton's spokesman said the party's own "on-the-ground" data suggested it was "within a few percentage points" of winning.

He added: "The Labour Party is no longer in the race... we have used traditional campaigning techniques - going out and meeting people.

"Elizabeth is very personable and we are trying to run a positive campaign."

Labour's portrayal of Conservative candidate Edward Timpson as a "Tory toff" has been criticised as a "class-war" tactic to hold the seat, vacant since the death of long-serving MP Gwyneth Dunwoody last month.

But her daughter, the Labour candidate Tamsin Dunwoody, has defended the slogan as "good visual imagery".

The latest poll, for the Independent newspaper, puts the Tories on 48%, Labour on 35% and the Lib Dems on 12%.

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The survey company ComRes interviewed 1,001 people in the constituency from 15 to 18 May.

Ms Shenton's spokesman said: "What I think will happen is that a considerable hardcore Labour vote that hasn't already gone across to us will do, when they realise that to do otherwise could give Crewe and Nantwich a Tory MP for the first time in the seat's history."

There are 10 candidates for the by-election, with polling stations open from 0700 BST until 2200 BST on Thursday. The result is expected by about 0230 BST on Friday.


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