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 A/V REPORTS
Lady Thatcher
"If you get a very big majority then you really have got an elected dictatorship"
 real 56k

Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chancellor Gordon Brown
respond on the issue of a Labour majority
 real 56k

Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy
"If there is a Labour majority then that government needs an effective opposition"
 real 56k

Friday, 1 June, 2001, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Thatcher's landslide fears
Lady Thatcher
Lady Thatcher: "I applaud strong government"
Lady Thatcher has joined Conservative leader William Hague in warning that a landslide Labour victory would be dangerous for Britain.

It would lead to an "elective dictatorship", the former Tory prime minister says in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.


I applaud strong government but not overweening government sustained by cronies, ciphers and a personality cult

Lady Thatcher

There are also reports of cracks appearing in the Tory ranks with former chancellor Kenneth Clarke apparently criticising Mr Hague's attempt to make the election a referendum on the euro.

Tony Blair seized on Mr Clarke's comments at Labour's morning news conference and said Tory talk of landslides in a poll that had not yet happened was their way of trying to sneak in by the back door.

Lady Thatcher's comments came as the Tories shifted their campaign focus to inner city regeneration, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats concentrated on public services.

One of those services, the NHS, has become centre stage after a survey of family doctors indicated that a big majority of them would be prepared to resign from the NHS if talks over their contracts do not go well.

The results of there British Medical Association poll were published on Friday.

Personality cult

Lady Thatcher told Friday's Telegraph: "I applaud strong government but not overweening government sustained by cronies, ciphers and a personality cult.

"I very much fear that, if Mr Blair is returned with a large majority, these already detectable tendencies will grow unchecked."

Mr Hague told BBC News that "it would be extremely dangerous for this country" to have a repetition of Labour's landslide victory at the last election.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair: Tired but feeling good
But the current Tory leader insisted he was not contemplating defeat.

Friday's newspapers contain further bad news for the Tories, with the Guardian suggesting former party chairman Chris Patten is set to launch an attack after the election on Mr Hague's Eurosceptic campaign.

And the Independent says it has a tape of Mr Clarke telling a public meeting in his Rushcliffe constituency that the election should not be "confused" with a euro referendum.

"The government is divided on the (single) currency, therefore you have a general election to decide on issues like the economy, health, education and so on and a referendum on a single currency," Mr Clarke was reported as saying.

Not disheartened

But shadow environment secretary Archie Norman denied talk of "cracks", predicting that there would be many surprises on election night.

"There is absolutely no disheartening among the Conservatives in the country - we believe we are going to do very well," he told BBC News.

Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy warned of the dangers of a Labour landslide - stressing the need for a "vigorous opposition".

He argued his party would be better equipped to provide this than a Conservative Party with more seats as the Tories were heading for an "ongoing theological civil war".

Prime Minister Tony Blair again focused on public services - particularly health - at Labour's new conference.

"We have far more to do and we share the people's hunger for more improvement," he said.

Charles Kennedy
Charles Kennedy will campaign on crime
After focusing on Europe for much of the campaign, the Tories will on Friday talk about "one nation Conservatism" as they present their policies for inner city regeneration.

The Lib Dems are putting tackling crime at the heart of their agenda.

They pledged 6,000 more police officers, 2,000 part time community police officers and a civilian community safety force.

The prime minister is taking part in a forum with BBC News Online at 1245BST on Friday with campaign correspondent, Carolyn Quinn.

Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party is turning its fire on Labour, saying it cannot be trusted to fulfill its pledges on the NHS.

And Plaid Cymru is unveiling a poster on steel job losses in Wales while its former leader, Dafydd Wigley, has condemned the government's latest "raid on miners' pension funds."

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