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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2006, 17:16 GMT
Final push for by-election votes
Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnston (left) and Labour candidate Catherine Stihler (centre) talk to locals on Dunfermline High Street
Catherine Stihler (centre) is defending Labour's majority
Candidates have embarked on the final day of campaigning ahead of the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election.

Labour is defending a majority of more than 11,500 in the Westminster seat and is focusing on the economy, including tax credits for working families.

Lib Dems said they have set the agenda on local issues such as bridge tolls and Dunfermline town centre.

The SNP was focusing on hospitals, while the Tories said they were the real alternative to Labour.

Labour candidate Catherine Stihler warned supporters that if they stayed at home during Thursday's by-election that "they risked waking up to an SNP MP on Friday morning".

She added: "This is my community. I have listened, I know what people are concerned about and I will fight for them."

Willie Rennie, the Liberal Democrat candidate, said his party was "closing the gap" on Labour.

"The clear message that I am getting on the doorsteps is that local people feel let down by Labour and that it is time for a change," he said.

The SNP candidate Douglas Chapman said: "Labour have had their chance to make a positive difference to the area, and they have failed to deliver.

'Positive campaign'

"Local people know the increase in council tax which will be officially announced tomorrow will punish those on low and fixed incomes hardest, and they resent paying more under Labour and the Liberals while their education services face yet more cuts."

Carrie Ruxton, the Conservative candidate, said: "I am proud of the positive campaign I have led in this by-election.

"I have talked about the issues that matter to the people; the bridge, Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline town centre and the economy of Fife."

John McAllion, candidate for the Scottish Socialist Party, said: "Our campaigns to axe the council tax and prescription charges have gone down very well with people on the street.

"The local economy has also been a big issue. We're the only party that has argued for penalising multi-national companies which leave the country."

'Local issues'

Ian Borland, the UKIP Scotland candidate, said campaigning had been dominated by confusion about the powers of the Scottish Parliament and those of Westminster.

"We campaigned on local issues; against the downgrading of the hospital and our opposition to tolls on any roads or bridges in Britain," he added.

Tom Minogue of the National Alliance Against Tolls Scotland said that his was the only party that had consistently campaigned for the removal of the Forth Road Bridge tolls before the by-election was announced.

The by-election resulted from the death of Labour's Rachel Squire on 6 January.

Labour is defending a majority over the Lib Dems who overtook the SNP to come second in last May's general election.

Voters go to the polls on Thursday.




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See how the campaign trail is progressing



SEE ALSO:
Kennedy joins by-election drive
02 Feb 06 |  Scotland
List of by-election candidates
27 Jan 06 |  Scotland
By-election candidates announced
27 Jan 06 |  Scotland


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