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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Quotes of the week

Enlightening, evasive or just plain entertaining, the World at One rounds up the best soundbites from the election trail.

Visit this page for regular updates.

Tony Blair, on being asked about the latest allegations about Keith Vaz: "I find it quite extraordinary, just two days out of a General Election, you return to this subject."

Asked about how England might fare in their World Cup qualifier match in Greece on Wednesday, Tony Blair said: "I hope England win well." Chancellor Gordon Brown couldn't resist a joke, adding: "England will win with a landslide."

As the World at One visited Belfast for a special programme on the election campaign in Northern Ireland, a journalist is overheard at an Ulster Unionist press conference in which the decommissioning of IRA arms is discussed:

"They promised me coffee just as they promised me guns three years ago."

Stephen Byers, announcing a great step forward for labour rights: "We will provide a right for parents to request to work flexible hours when their child is young."

Roland Watson of the Times put the response best: "Is it the case that employers would now have the legal right to say no, as long as they did so nicely?"

At the Labour news conference, Gordon Brown sat next to Tony Blair and faced questions about personality. Last week a tabloid had compared them to Lennon and McCartney - so, like the Beatles, were there any creative tensions between them?

Blair quipped: "Yes, but which one is Lennon and which one is McCartney?" Brown said: "I think we work pretty well together," to which Blair added: "We will put it to music for you later."

Dr Alan Sked, founder of UKIP: "We do have to save the pound and the Tories are the only party in a position to do that."

Nick Brown, on whether he should have made an appearance in foot-and-mouth afflicted Yorkshire earlier than today: "It isn't my physical presence that bears down on the disease."

Michael Portillo, on the idea that Labour politicians might be the victims of media plots: "They now disguise the shambles they have got into by deciding it's all the fault of the media. I think this is now easily the most shambolic campaign run by Labour since 1983," he said.

Charles Kennedy, responding to a question on which businesses support the Liberal Democrats: "Oh, a lot...Geoffrey Madrell, very distinguished businessman, not least because he's the chairman of Glenmorangie...I consider that my most notable scalp so far in my leadership."

Gordon Brown, chairing a discussion on missiles: "A question there for Tony, because I've not been pelted by tomatoes."

Hostage to fortune of the day?

Even his own side is not to be trusted. Tony Blair replied: "We'll have to arrange something I think, Gordon."

Asked whether her policies would lead to a large increase in the prison population, Ann Widdecombe said there would be "no maximum" prisoner numbers under the Tories. "I do not think of the prison population in terms of an ideal number. We will not be constrained by some artificial level," she said.

Charles Kennedy, launching his manifesto and explaining why there was no mention of the Euro until the last page of the tabloid-style document: "I understand many people turn to the back pages of their newspapers first."

Tim Collins, trying to deal with unhelpful comments from colleagues on the Tory tax policy: "One single report that we've been able to knock down comprehensively compared to the piranha fish circling the blood in the water as the Labour Party's campaign is pulled apart."

Michael Portillo, invited to back his colleague David Willetts: Mr Willetts seemed to suggest last night that the party's promised 8 billion of spending cuts might amount to only 7 billion: the Shadow Chancellor said, "I can tell you that the 8 billion has not been dented by anybody and it won't be during this campaign".

Gordon Brown, faced with the awkward question: could you sustain your spending programme without raising taxes three years from now? "No responsible Chancellor would ever get himself into a position of projecting four or five years into his term exactly what the detail of these things are."

Alan Milburn, the Health Secretary, answering the question on television: why did Labour not spend more on public services earlier? Because public spending was in danger of "spiralling out of control" in 1997. So that'll be why Gordon Brown decided to stick rigidly to those same Tory plans for Labour's first two years in office.

Simon Hughes, answering a highly speculative question: "Has your leader signalled a complete change of campaign tactics from previous years?" with the simple answer - "Yes".

It is not a word that exists in the vocabulary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


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