Election '97: THE HURRIED VOTER'S GUIDE

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The Independent Online
THE CAMPAIGN

With two days to go before polling day, the two main parties brought their campaigns back to trust, an enduring election theme for both.

The shadow Chancellor, Gordon Brown, christened yesterday "Trust Tuesday". Many promises on tax which had been broken since 1992 had been made by the Conservatives on the Tuesday before the last general election, he said.

John Major said Labour would not tell the voters what it would do if it won the election. Labour would destroy the economy, put up spending and taxes, raise fuel bills, increase council tax and remove child benefit from sixth-formers, he said.

"I challenge Gordon Brown. If you plan to hit the ground running on Friday, what will you hit the British with?" he said.

The Liberal Democrats' press conference marked the first appearance of Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, the party's leader in the House of Lords. Denying rumours of deals over ministerial posts, Lord Jenkins said he had not spoken to Tony Blair since the campaign began.

"I have had no contact with him at all since what now seems like 18 months since the campaign began, and no discussions with him on this issue," he said.

KEY ARGUMENTS

The Prime Minister compared Labour with one of the world's biggest marketing disasters - the South Sea Bubble, which "burst" dramatically in 1720, ruining many investors.

"They are a great marketing scam. There's been nothing like it since ... and I think you know what happened to the South Sea Bubble," he said.

Mr Major's deputy, Michael Heseltine, had a further warning for the electorate. "This country is sleepwalking into the sort of disastrous policies Labour in power have always been responsible for. The best way to avoid sleepwalking into a nightmare is to wake up," he said.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Paddy Ashdown, was upbeat. "We stand on the brink of the greatest break-through any third party has achieved since the Second World War," he said.

Labour's trade and industry spokeswoman, Margaret Beckett, replied to Conservative attacks: "Whenever we point out that the Tories have a poor track record on telling the truth, they become virtually hysterical. The fact is the louder the Tories shout the less believable they become and the more they sound like a group of people with something to hide."

GOOD DAY BAD DAY

. . . well, better than five years ago, anyway. Neil Kinnock was back in Monmouth, campaigning for Labour as he did at the last election. Although no longer leader, Mr Kinnock could not have been more cheerful as he received the best wishes of loyal Welsh Labour supporters, and canvassed for the local candidate Huw Edwards. "This is totally different to five years ago," said Mr Kinnock, "It's great to be here again".

Former sex symbol David Soul, star of the 70s TV series Starsky and Hutch, was found serenading elderly voters on a karaoke machine at the Knutsford Drop-In Centre in Tatton. After a rendition of "Don't Give Up On Us Baby", Soul was swamped by eager fans crying "Ooh, aren't you lovely!" Mr Soul, who was in Tatton to back Martin Bell, said later: "the grass roots movement was a dying breed ... it's a renewal of the spirit to be involved in this."

ONE TO REMEMBER

Blair turned up for the BBC's Election Call programme dressed in party colours. The only problem being it was the wrong party. When Peter Sissons pointed to Blair's blue tie, he retorted "You don't read anything into that, Peter?" He went on to reveal that his choice of tie is determined solely by what comes out of the drawer first.

HOGWASH

Alastair Campbell, Blair's press secretary, writing in the Mirror about the importance of Alex Ferguson's friendship to the Labour Party: "The trick is to work out whose advice is worth listening to and worth passing on - who are fair-weather friends and who are the real McCoy. Alex Ferguson is the real McCoy. He has invaluable advice about how to handle that pressure, handle the media, build a team, spot your opponents' weaknesses and exploit them."

THE OTHER PARTIES

Sir James Goldsmith, leader of the Referendum Party vowed to fight on after the election against "future betrayal", despite the defection of one of the party's candidates to the Tories. David Crabtree, who was due to stand in Pudsey, Leeds, called on his supporters to "put country before party" and vote Tory. SDLP leader John Hume called on the nationalist community in Ulster not to trust Sinn Fein and vote for them on Thursday. Mr Hume said the election had boiled down to trust. "People can see through the inconsistency of people preaching constitutionalism while engaging in Drumcree" he said.

MEDIA STAR

The Liberal Democrats introduced Elizabeth Gresham to the spotlight. At 101, they are sure that she is the oldest Tory supporter to have converted to their cause. Mrs Gresham voted for Stanley Baldwin in 1929 and has backed the Conservatives at every election since. But yesterday she told reporters that the Tories had been in power for too long, and were neglecting social services. The fact that she had recently faced a nine-month wait for a cataract operation also affected her decision, party workers said. After meeting Paddy Ashdown, Mrs Gresham described him as "wonderful".

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