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The BBC's Shaun Ley
"On one thing the leaders are agreed; they need to persuade people to come out and vote"
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The BBC's John Pienaar
"Everyone loves a winner-but Tony Blair has not won yet"
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Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 19:38 GMT 20:38 UK
Leaders turn up heat
Tony Blair, Charles Kennedy and William Hague
The leaders of the three main political parties have come out fighting this weekend as the election campaign enters its final phase.

Tony Blair described Tory efforts to persuade voters to help stop a Labour landslide as a "desperate last throw of the dice".

But Conservative leader William Hague, meeting farmers in his North Yorkshire constituency, branded the crisis in farming as "the worst agricultural depression in generations".


We are going to up the campaign zeal between now and Thursday

Charles Kennedy
In Scotland, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy predicted the Tories would descend into internal warfare once the election was over and that his party would become the effective opposition.

A series of opinion polls for Sunday papers suggest Labour has lost some support but retains a sizeable lead over the Conservatives, while there is some encouragement for the Liberal Democrats.

Meanwhile, a host of retiring MPs - including Sir Paddy Ashdown and Michael Heseltine - have been given peerages in the pre-election honours list.

Wasted votes?

The issue of tactical voting also reached the election frontline, with the Conservatives hitting back at calls from the Liberal Democrats and Labour for people to vote tactically against them.

Mr Maude accused Labour of trying to re-run the 1997 election.

He said that the circumstances today were different to 1997.

"People are deeply disillusioned about Labour. 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."

In the Labour heartland of Salford, Mr Blair's focus was on encouraging core Labour voters to turn out on polling day.

Opinion polls

The prime minister said his party would "fight for the hard-working families of Britain" if re-elected.

One Labour source told the BBC the party would urge selective anti-Tory tactical voting, although the party would not go so far as urging its own supporters to vote Lib Dem in constituencies where that party is ahead.

Lib Dem candidate Gordon Dean - standing in Norfolk South West - has already urged his supporters to vote Labour to defeat former Tory cabinet minister Gillian Shephard.

But the Lib Dems have distanced themselves from Mr Dean's comments, with Mr Kennedy saying the term "off message" was a "massive understatement".

There are three UK-wide opinion polls being published in Sunday newspapers.

An NOP survey for the Sunday Times puts Labour at 47% (down 2%), the Conservatives at 30% (unchanged) and the Liberal Democrats at 16% (up 2%).

A MORI poll for the Sunday Telegraph put Labour on 50% (down 1% from the last comparable poll on 13 May), the Conservatives at 27% (down 4%) and the Liberal Democrats at 17% (up 4%).

An ICM poll for the Observer put Labour on 46% (down 2% from its last poll on 13 May), the Conservatives at 34% (up 2%) and the Liberal Democrats at 15% (unchanged).

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