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BBC Wales Guto Thomas reports
"The roll call of big political guns begins"
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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 06:30 GMT
Kennedy campaign's flying visit

The first of the political "big guns" flies into Wales on Thursday as the election campaign moves into its third day.

The Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy is visiting Cardiff International Airport on the first of four planned visits to Wales during the campaign.

Tory campaigners' battle to keep the pound
Tories out in Cardiff battling for the pound

Meanwhile, his Conservative counterpart William Hague is launching his party's UK manifesto in Westminster.

Welsh members - who were out campaigning in Cardiff against the Euro on Wednesday - are due to unveil their own version next week.

And Labour - badly bruised by Plaid Cymru's sweeping gains in the 1999 Welsh Assembly elections - has already stressed that it is listening to the electorate.

Plaid meanwhile have attacked Labour for concentrating their economic policies in London and the south east of England.

Outlining their proposals to assist manufacturing and to improve the Welsh economy, they want a 50p in the pound rate of income tax on earnings over 50,000 and a reduction in corporation tax.

Plaid Cymru logo
Plaid turn focus on the economy

They also want to reduce national insurance contributions from 10 to 8 per cent in Objective One regions to act as stimulus to the regeneration of the local economy.

Attention is due to switch to Mr Kennedy when he arrived in Cardiff International Airport around 1300BST for a "brief stopover".

He is due to attend a news conference alongside his party's two Welsh MPs - Brecon and Radnor's Richard Livsey, who is retiring, and Lembit Opik from Montgomery.

Soon after Labour will launch a Welsh version of its pledge card on Thursday.

The five-point card has been specifically tailored to take in the needs of the Welsh Assembly.

The card will be launched by Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy who on Wednesday finalised Labour's Welsh manifesto.

welsh Secretary Paul Murphy
Paul Murphy: Building economic foundation

The party is anxious to avoid the repercussions of the run-up to the Welsh Assembly elections in 1999 when Labour was deprived of an overall majority by a Plaid Cymru surge in traditional Labour strongholds.

There were complaints then that Labour had ignored its core voters and anger among many that the Cardiff South and Penarth MP Alun Michael was "parachuted in" to become First Secretary.

"We have taken on board the challenge.

"When you get that sort of message from the electorate, obviously you respond to it," said Rhodri Morgan.

Paul Murphy said Labour's Welsh manifesto, which will be published next week, would outline a wide-ranging set of proposals to build on the sold economic foundation laid by the government and assembly.

Hard-hit agriculture will also be on the election agenda as the National Farmers Union Cymru launches its manifesto aimed at putting the industry on the road to recovery after the foot-and-mouth crisis.

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