Page last updated at 18:24 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 19:24 UK

Peter Hain's election call for 'intelligent' voting

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Peter Hain has urged 'intelligent voting' in marginal constituencies

Peter Hain has denied urging Labour supporters to vote for other parties to keep the Conservatives out of power.

The Welsh secretary said opponents of Tories should vote "intelligently" in constituencies where Labour cannot win.

But he insisted that did not amount to urging Labour backers to vote tactically against the Conservatives.

Lib Dems called it desperate, Tories said Labour were begging people to change their vote, and Plaid said only voting for them would protect Wales.

BBC Wales political editor Betsan Powys said it was "a cardinal rule of campaigning that senior party figures should never urge their supporters to vote for other parties - but Mr Hain came perilously close to that in a newspaper interview".

Click here for Betsan Powys's blog

Mr Hain said who would become the biggest party in the general election would be determined in 100 or so Labour/Tory marginals.

He said he was appealing to Liberal Democrats - and Plaid Cymru in Wales and the SNP in Scotland - to vote tactically in those areas.

Speaking on BBC Radio Four, Mr Hain, the leader of Labour's election campaign in Wales, said: "I want every Labour candidate to win, obviously, but many are not going to be in a position to win.

In their desperation to cling onto power Peter Hain and his Labour colleagues are making a last-ditch appeal to voters they have taken for granted for far too long
Cheryl Gillan, shadow Welsh secretary

"I really think it is important for people to act intelligently in this election."

Mr Hain, who was a member of the Liberal party until the 1970s, also said there should be a Labour-Lib Dem partnership to drive through political reform.

He said: "There should be a partnership, whether Labour has a majority or a minority, to drive through this fundamental political reform, to rebuild trust in our political system.

"And also to make sure that the planned Conservative cuts this year, starting this year and then carrying on remorselessly, do not happen because they'll jeopardise the recovery, they'll damage public services and they'll cause unemployment to rocket."

Mr Hain was echoed by Schools Secretary Ed Balls, who told the New Statesman that he always wanted Labour to win, but recognised there was "an issue" in Lib Dem/Tory marginals.

The Labour party is on very desperate ground
Kirsty Williams, leader, Welsh Liberal Democrats

Stopped short

Official Labour policy is to support their candidate in every seat they are fighting.

Mr Balls stopped short of saying Labour voters should vote Lib Dem in Lib Dem/Tory marginals.

The Labour-supporting Mirror newspaper printed a tactical voting guide aimed at "stopping" a Conservative win. Cabinet minister Tessa Jowell told the BBC that was a "good thing" but added: "Ultimately, the point is, people make up their own minds."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown told GMTV he did not back tactical voting and wanted people to "vote Labour".

Shadow Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan said: "In their desperation to cling onto power Peter Hain and his Labour colleagues are making a last-ditch appeal to voters they have taken for granted for far too long.

"They tried frightening them, they tried threatening them, and when that hasn't worked they tried begging them to change their vote.

I'm not going to ask Plaid Cymru voters to vote for anybody else
Ieuan Wyn Jones, leader, Plaid Cymru

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said: "Last week, Peter Hain was giving out a different message to the one he's giving this week on how people should vote. The Labour party is on very desperate ground.

"The people of Wales, those who want to see real change, should back their instincts and support the Liberal Democrats because every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to change our country for good and deliver the fair society we deserve."

Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "We have Peter Hain acknowledging that Labour are so far behind that they're not going to do it, I mean, I've never yet heard a government going to into an election telling people not to vote for them, to vote for somebody else. I think that's desperate stuff.

"I'm not going to ask Plaid Cymru voters to vote for anybody else," said Mr Jones.



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