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Voting for a new Britain: Salmond takes to streets for votes

THE SCOTTISH National Party abandoned its daily press briefings yesterday, signalling a deepening crisis caused by the party's poor showing in opinion polls.

Trailing Labour by 20 points in the most recent poll, the SNP took its campaign to the streets in a series of walkabouts. Defending the change in tactics, Alex Salmond, the party's leader, said: "We have to face the fact that the vast majority of the press in Scotland are in the Labour Party's pocket.

"Instead of dancing to a tune they want to establish, what we have decided to do is take our campaign into the streets and homes of the people of Scotland. On that campaign we think we can win."

Despite the SNP's decline, Labour leaders are to issue a strong "no complacency" warning to party workers and supporters in Scotland. "Alex Salmond may be wounded and injured but he is not dead," a Labour spokesman said last night. "He is still dangerous. Now we have got to kill him off." Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, who is playing a big role in Labour's campaign, is said to be worried that the party will become complacent.

Mr Salmond went on a walkabout in the Glasgow constituency of Govan, where the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon came within 3,000 votes of beating Labour in the 1997 election. It had been thought that the SNP had a good chance of winning but serious doubts were raised yesterday about whether the SNP can even win there or in two of its other chief target seats - Ochil and Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber.