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Friday, 1 June, 2001, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
The Campaign Today with Nick Robinson

Smile, it's Friday. Share the joy of the last weekend before polling day with Nick Robinson.

Last updated at 5.40pm
Click here for latest update


Subject: Think you know what's going to happen?
Sent: 9.15am

I suppose it was inevitable. It's the polls that have become the story - not of course whether they are right or not, but the suggestion that a Labour landslide is a foregone conclusion.

One thing I think none of this takes into account is growing voter promiscuity. Voters have cottoned on that they don't need to be "A Labour man" or " Always a Tory". You can vote for Red Ken in London, still vote for Tony Blair for Number 10, and vote for a Green to serve at a local election.

And the more people think that we already know who is going to be in Number 10 in a week's time, the more tempted voters may be to use their vote to send a signal, not to determine who forms the next government.

That could have us all guessing on election night as to quite which way each seat will go.



Subject: This is a surreal moment
Sent: 12 noon

I'm at Conservative Central Office now waiting for William Hague to react to what's going to be the story of the day, the BMA threatening that its GPs may even withdraw their labour.

An extraordinary, surreal, election moment really, with the teachers threatening to strike, with the head teachers threatening to work to rule, Unison warning that they may not tolerate the involvement of the private sector.

All this on Labour's central theme of public services and yet the Tories coming out in a minute or two's time, unable to make any capital on it. It's a topsy turvy election in that sense.




Nick, Can you tell us where we can get our hands on a party manifesto and do we need higher qualifications to read and understand it? Oh, and will it be worth our while?

Julia, Crewe

Subject: Answer
Sent: 1.10pm

Julia, It should be easy - they're all available online (links to the party's websites are on the right of the screen) and big newsagents stock them too but may not feel they're worthy of a large window display!!



Subject: Uh oh
Sent: 1.20pm

She's done it again! Oh so carefully William Hague raised the dangers of a Labour landslide whilst insisting he could still win the election. A formula designed to persuade people they can protest against Labour without risking ejecting Tony Blair whilst at the same time not conceding that the Tories expect to lose.

But Margaret Thatcher doesn't like verbal formulas and has just told reporters that she's working to "reduce Labour's majority". Oops



Subject: A question for YOU this time
Sent: 2pm

Fascinating to think whether the Tories would do better if they had simply conceded from the outset that they couldn't win this time and had invited voters to vote for them to send a message to ministers.

One Australian party faced by a similar electoral mountain ran on the slogan "Keep the bastards honest". Many Aussies voted to do just that!

I've heard it suggested that another party somewhere used that approach and then shocked themselves and the voters by actually winning (does anyone know where it was?)




"Keep the Bastards honest" slogan was used by the Australian Democrats, the third party in Australia. At the time the slogan was current they were primarily running for seats in the Senate, the elected upper chamber of the Australian parliament, and thus would never have been able to form a government. The point behind it all was that as a third force in the senate they could indeed keep the bastards honest, and not that they were a long way behind at the polls.

Peter Merton, London



4.20pm
THANKS 4 THAT PETER - SOMEONE ELSE JUST TOLD ME PAULINE HANSON MIGHT HAVE USED IT AS WELL...



Subject: When's a dispute not a dispute?
Sent: 5pm

"It's NOT a dispute" the health secretary ticked me off when I used the D word to describe GPs' threat to withdraw their services from the NHS.

According to Alan Milburn everyone agrees on the need for a new GP contract, everyone agrees on the need for investment and everyone agrees on ther need for reform.

That's okay then but, if so, I asked him why are doctors in - sorry, threatening - a dispute with the government? They're frustrated and fatigued apparently but he didn't say who with. Funny that.



Subject: Tory strategy (Mark 14)
Sent: 5.40pm

William Hague's gone all liberal and inclusive today.

He used THAT phrase - once a banner of anti- Thatcherite resistance in the Tory party and now so beloved of the prime minister. I mean "One Nation", of course.

And he went further, predicting that Britain's first Muslim prime minister will be a Tory - pointing out that the first Jew and the first woman to lead Britain were both Tories.

He said people of all colours and faiths were "all as British as each other" and that a Tory government would be committed to "rooting out racism and bigotry".

Some in his party will be wondering why he's waited so long to say it.




Nick, do you have any idea why polls in this election do not display the 'don't knows'? These used to be associated with the crucial floating voters.

John, London



Subject: Good question
Sent: 6pm

John, Don't knows aren't the same as floating voters - they include "won't votes" and "won't tells" as well as genuine undecideds.

Some polls ask people who've expressed a party preference if they might change their mind and get figures as high as 20-30%. Whereas there are around 12% of don't knows in the polls which do print the figures.

Once again, there's no agreed standard among the polling companies on this but you're right that the percentages you read ignore this group.



Subject: Lib Dems on a high
Sent: 6.30pm

I've rarely seen the Lib Dems look so happy. Two years ago the talk was of losing half the seats they now hold.

Now they're talking of taking high profile Tory scalps such as Oliver Letwin and Tim Collins. And the polls suggest this isn't just the usual "election talk" - tonight a poll puts them on 19% - that's 2% up on their showing in 1997.


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