Last push as British poll goes down to wire

, Comments 0 comments

Party leaders rushed across Britain in a frantic final day of campaigning Wednesday as they battled to win over undecided voters, before what is expected to be the tighest election contest in decades.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, David Cameron of the main opposition Conservatives and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats all acknowledged that Thursday's election was still up for grabs.

The urgency of the last-minute campaigning was underlined by a poll showing that nearly four in 10 voters were yet to decide who to back.

In the face of polls showing the Conservatives ahead in the race, Brown said he was "determined" and "resolute" to keep Labour in government for a fourth term.

Brown told a crowd in Bradford during a tour of northern England that a Conservative government would plunge the economy back into recession with their promises of deep cuts.

"Tomorrow is the day for us to stand firm for what everybody knows to be true... I am determined and I am resolute and I am fighting not for me but for Britain's future," he said.

Conservative leader Cameron was still campaigning Wednesday afternoon after spending the night talking to fishermen and shift workers in marginal seats in northern England that the Tories must win to take back power.

Cameron -- who also stopped off for fish and chips during his marathon last trip -- said it was his riposte to his opponents' claim that he was taking victory for granted.

"I don't want to take anything for granted, it's a very important election, it's a close election and I'm fighting for every vote right down to the wire," he told GMTV.

"I never believed this election was going to be easy. The British people don't hand you the government of the country on a plate. Quite rightly, they are making us work for it," he said.

Clegg made a last dash for votes across England in Eastbourne, Durham and Sheffield.

He told voters that by choosing his party they had a chance to avoid a "stitch-up" by the two main parties.

The latest polls showed the Conservatives would win the most seats, but not enough to form a government on their own, leading to a hung parliament.

A ComRes poll for ITV News and The Independent newspaper showed the Tories ahead on 37 percent, Labour on 29 and the Liberal Democrats 26. That would equate to 289 seats for the Tories, 258 for Labour and 75 for the Lib Dems.

But the same poll also indicated that nearly 40 percent of voters were still undecided.

Labour strategists said the party's research showed only up to 20 percent of people who intend to vote had still not made up their minds -- they also claimed half of those thinking of voting Lib Dem could yet vote differently.

Brown refused to endorse calls from some Labour cabinet ministers that their supporters should vote for the Liberal Democrats in seats where Labour had no chance, to stop the Conservatives from taking power.

"I want every Labour voter to vote Labour. I want that because I want a majority Labour government," he told BBC radio.

He also refused to be drawn on whether he would consider forming a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.

"We wait until the electorate makes a decision. We, as a Labour Party, have to accept the decision of the electorate," he told ITV News.

Clegg, whose party's surprisingly strong performance has made the election so close, dismissed talk of tactical voting as "another sign of Labour's desperation."

His party has enjoyed a surge of support on the back of his performance in TV debates, and he is anxious to avoid tactical voting by his own supporters, fearing it could dent his party's share of the popular vote.

This would damage his negotiating power in the event of a hung parliament, in which he could hold the balance of power.

In the latest celebrity endorsement, television and music mogul Simon Cowell backed Cameron, writing in The Sun: "I believe he is the prime minister Britain needs at this time.

"He has substance and the stomach to navigate us through difficult times."

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article