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 A/V REPORTS
The BBC's Shaun Ley
"On one thing the leaders are agreed; they need to persuade people to come out and vote"
 real 56k

Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Tactical voting row
A voter pondering which party to back
The Conservatives have gone on the offensive against tactical voting in the general election.

Senior party figures have called on "disillusioned" Labour supporters not to "waste" their vote on the Liberal Democrats.


A Liberal Democrat vote is a wasted vote

Francis Maude
It follows recent warnings from party leader William Hague and former prime minister Baroness Thatcher against a Labour landslide in the polls.

Labour has hit back accusing the Conservatives of being desperate and accusing the party of encouraging voters to stay at home.

Chasing votes

Earlier, Labour played down suggestions that the party would support tactical voting if it helped to defeat Tory candidates.

The Liberal Democrats have said they will be chasing every vote and party leader Charles Kennedy said he was against tactical voting.

Shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude moved to dispel Tory fears that voters could vote tactically when the polls open on Thursday.

Tactical voting between Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters cost the Conservatives scores of seats in the 1997 general election.

But Mr Maude said: "People are deeply disillusioned about Labour.

Lib Dem candidate Gordon Dean
Mr Dean was "off message" says his party
"They know for the most part a Liberal Democrat vote is a wasted vote and so I think that this won't have any resonance at all.

"So far as the Liberal Democrats are concerned... they claim to Conservative voters they are anti-Labour, they claim to Labour voters they're anti-Conservative.

"You can't believe a word they say."

Core voter appeal

Tony Blair has previously said he does not want people to vote tactically and on Saturday he took that message to Labour's heartlands.

Speaking in Salford, Manchester, he called on people to vote Labour and give him a mandate to improve public services.

Charles Kennedy said his party wanted to increase its number of MPs and its share of the national vote at the election.

He said the party's candidate in Norfolk South West, Gordon Dean, was "off message" when he urged his supporters to vote Labour in an effort to defeat former Tory cabinet minister Gillian Shephard.

However, the Lib Dem leader said Mr Dean would not face disciplinary action for his comments.

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