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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
The Campaign Today with Nick Robinson

Heave a sigh of relief - it's the end of the third week. Your guide, philosopher and friend Nick Robinson will see you through it.


Last updated at 4.56pm
Click here for latest update


Subject: Know any real people?
Sent: 8.15am

Back from Bristol, having seen the cream of British political campaigning. Sad to report no real people in sight. Though William Hague picked me up on that saying: "Look, party supporters and protesters are real people too, you know."

It's true, but those who are not already committed are not invited to events. And extraordinarily even those who live with them are not tempted to pop along and just see what's going on.

Further confirmation that this election interests those who are already interested but seems to be failing to get through to just about anybody else.



Subject: Don't talk to me about trains
Sent: 9.15am

Thank goodness Tony Blair's talking about Europe today.

If he talked about public investment, I might have screamed. Last night's train from Bristol was delayed for more than an hour. Where on earth was the public investment then?

Fascinating to see the parties criss-crossing. Blair criticised Hague for not talking about public services but delivers a speech on Europe. Hague says he want to talk about Europe but delivers a speech on public services.

All a bit baffling, really.



Subject: Ladies day
Sent: 10.15am

Today will forever be known as Ladies Day in this election campaign.

There's been mounting criticism behind the scenes that all the parties have no senior women at their news conferences. They occasionally have so-called "token" women on the platform but they are rarely allowed to answer the questions. Female political correspondents are equally frustrated that they rarely get to ask the questions.


Gordon Brown steps in manfully
Today a plot was afoot at the Labour conference. Men wouldn't put their hand up to allow the women a shout.

Hilariously when the question of women's back-seat role in this campaign was raised by a woman, Gordon Brown - failing to spot the mood - spoke before allowing even the two women ministers with him to open their mouths.

Hilarity all round, but maybe a serious point has been made and heard.


12.25pm


Labour have a terrible record on transport thus far but are now promising investment. What baffles me is that I haven't even heard of the other parties response to this and their plans.

Tristan, London



Subject: Down to business
Sent: 1.15pm

Today sees the big clash of ideas that this election has been waiting for. Tony Blair will use a speech this afternoon to insist that it's patriotic to be fully engaged in Europe. Straight afterwards Michael Portillo will respond by arguing that tearing up the pound could hardly be described as patriotic and would be an economic mistake.

At the end of it, though, will we be any clearer as to Labour's intentions towards the pound? I think the answer is "yes".

Although ministers stick religiously to their formula on whether they'll join the euro (you know the one I mean, the five economic tests, assessment in next two years, people decide blah blah) Tony Blair has said much during this campaign which reveals his thinking.

He's agreed that joining the Euro is one of his "Ambitions for Britain"; he's said that it would be hard for Britain to be a leading country in Europe if we stayed outside the Euro and he's told the FT today something I'd heard in private - namely that he's confident he can win a referendum to scrap the pound whatever the polls now say.

So, what stands in the way of an early decision if Labour win again? The fear that we'd be joining at too high an exchange rate and Gordon Brown's fear that the European Central Bank is too concerned with driving inflation down and not enough with sustaining growth and employment.



Subject: What if...?
Sent: 2.30pm

William Hague's now banked his entire career on the British love for the pound. Having said there are only days left to save the pound has made it much harder for him to stay on as party leader if the Tories lose big.

He would, in that situation, lack credibility leading a referendum campaign to save the pound. Interesting to see that today's Sun editorial states confidently that "William - we are certain - will act with dignity and poise" in that situation. Believe me, those words won't have appeared by chance



Subject: Answer to Tristan
Sent: 4.56pm

Tristan - in answer to your question. Transport has been raised by the journalists, in particular asking why the parties haven't raised it.

Gordon Brown assured the political commentator for The Times, Peter Riddell, today that we would get a news conference on transport.

But he said when asked if John Prescott would front it that of course Mr Prescott was busy travelling round the country, so let's see.

Certainly the journalists want to talk about transport whenever Mr Blair talks about public services, but you can see why he might not want to.


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