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Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Life on the Labour bus: Week 3
Press pack follwing Blair
The press follow Blair's every move in Brighton
By campaign correspondent James Robbins

Call it coincidence, call me a cynic, but as polling day looms, Labour has finally plunged into populism on the campaign trail.

We, the foot soldiers of the press brigade on the battlebus, are no longer being ticked off by Labour for concentrating on incidents rather than issues.

So what's changed? Well, plenty. For starters, Mr Blair has been to the seaside. He clambered on an open-top bus in Brighton, and he brought his eldest son Euan to an election rally.

Blair
Blair enjoying the sun in Brighton
If that wasn't enough, he's also visited a premiership football club and the set of a TV soap. So it's not all hospitals and schools any more, whatever the campaign posters may say.

Labour's task now is to get the voters out, and no amount of bedpans and exercise books can be guaranteed to deliver Labour supporters to the polling booth. Instead there is a parallel campaign going on to enthuse and excite people.

What else has happened, amid the emerging razzmatazz? Well, a sort of inflation has crept back into the oh-so-stable economy.

Mansifesto price hike

The mini-manifesto on business - extracts from the main manifesto but with extra graphics for numerate city folk - is out now at the price of 10. But it may not seem much of a bargain, because the original, much weightier multi-topic main manifesto costs just 2.50.

And add to that, battlebus food has shifted from virtuous New Labour fruit and Mediterranean-type sandwiches, on which we've been grazing throughout the campaign trail, to more traditional fare - lots of pub food and take-out fish and chips.

As reporters, we're finding this much more tricky to eat, as the buses dart from events to highlight issues and events to highlight Labour celebrities.

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