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Labour leader Tony Blair
urges the electorate to vote on polling day
 real 56k

The BBC's Carolyn Quinn
in the Prime Ministers home constituency of Sedgefield
 real 56k

Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Blair: It's the people's poll
Tony and Cherie Blair in Nottingham
Tony Blair criss-crosses the country
Tony Blair has launched a passionate plea for the electorate to turn out, support "what they believe in" and vote Labour.

The appeal came at the prime minister's final news conference of the campaign, held in Nottingham, less than 24 hours before the polls open on Thursday.

I hope our country speaks up, uses its voice and uses its voice to build a better future for our country

Tony Blair
"Tomorrow this election belongs to the people of this country," he said.

"I say to you, tomorrow the future of Britain is in your hands, not mine, not the pundits or the pollsters or the bookmakers, this is the moment of decision for the British people and the election belongs to them."

With no outward sign that he expects the overwhelming victory still predicted by the polls, Mr Blair hammered home Labour's end-of-campaign message that "every vote counts".

Tory programme 'defeated'

The election campaign had seen the "complete and comprehensive defeat" of Conservative policies and argument, Mr Blair said.

Tony Blair in Dumfries in Scotland
Tony Blair: Passionate plea for votes

But without voting, and voting Labour, the country would return to the "disastrous" years of Conservative rule, he warned.

Mr Blair ran through his own check list of his government's achievements, from economic stability to best ever primary school results to extra nurses.

But he insisted there was still much more to do, including increasing the numbers of doctors, police and teachers and maintaining help for families and pensioners.

Our message to the British people is if you entrust us with a second term, we will work for you

Gordon Brown

The prime minister said people he had spoken to during the campaign wanted extra investment in public services - but none wanted a return to the economic instability, boom and bust and 20bn in cuts he said would occur under the Tories.

Mr Blair declared: "The vote is a precious thing, people fought for it and died for it.

"It's important tomorrow that people make their voice heard because if people do not come out and vote, and vote for what they believe in, then they will end up with Mr Hague as prime minister on Friday and the Conservatives running this country."

'We deserve people's trust'

The Labour leader was speaking before setting off on a final whirlwind tour including stops in England, Wales and Scotland.

He pledged to work "hour after hour" to persuade people "that we deserve their trust again".

As the campaigning drew to a close, Mr Blair seemed more relaxed than earlier in the week as he addressed Labour supporters in Dumfries in Scotland.

When a mother left the room cradling her noisy baby, Mr Blair joked: "I'm very familiar with that" and as he looked over to his wife Cherie and warned her not to get "broody".

At the morning news conference, Chancellor Gordon Brown reaffirmed his commitment to maintaining economic stability and warned that not a single Labour vote would be taken for granted.

"From morning to night, on this last day, we carry our campaign and our cause to as many voters as we can reach, in every part of the country."

He denied voters were apathetic, insisting people he had met "care deeply, passionately about the issues".

Pensioner challenge

Earlier, Mr Blair was challenged over his government's policies for pensioners on the BBC's Election Call programme.

The prime minister highlighted free TV licences and the 200 winter allowance as measures, he said, the Tories would threaten.

Mr Blair accepted last year's 75p-a-week pension rise was a "mistake" but said it was "a bit unfair" to suggest it was the only thing they had done for pensioners.

He also told the programme reports he would kick-start attempts to swing public opinion behind the euro as early as September, if Labour won the election, were "completely wrong".


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