The governing Labour Party, main opposition Conservatives and smaller Liberal Democrats are pulling out all the stops to woo Britain’s pool of 44 million potential voters ahead of polling day on May 5.
Prime Minister Blair and his more popular finance minister Gordon Brown unveiled a poster in London that signalled with arrows the way forward with Labour and way back with the Tories, declaring: “Economic stability. If you value it, vote for it”.
“Today we return to the big and fundamental choice facing the country — forward or back, the Labour government with a strong economy, economic stability, or back with a Tory government that will put that economic stability at risk,” Mr Blair told reporters.
It was up to the public to decide whether to wake up to a Labour government or a Conservative government on May 6, said Mr Blair.
Asked if he was feeling under pressure, he replied: “No, but I do think it’s important that people understand how big and fundamental the choice is.”
Tory leader Michael Howard was also keen to broaden the debate after he scored a string of points against Mr Blair over Iraq by branding the prime minister a liar for misleading the public over the war.
“We’re in the last few days now of the campaign in this general election and it’s time to focus on the wider choices people face in this campaign,” Mr Howard told a news conference in Cardiff, the capital of Wales.
“Conservatives are taking a stand on the issues that matter,” he said.
Mr Howard pledged to crack down on immigration — one of the Conservative Party’s main themes in the election. He also promised to unveil eight priorities for the early days of a Conservative government on Monday.
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy lamented an absence of US-style head-to-head televised debates between party heads.
“I hope this is the last general election when we don’t have all party leader debates because I think it’s a very healthy thing for democracy,” he said.
The idea of a broadcast debate between the three had been agreed by his party and the Conservatives, Mr Kennedy said, but had been blocked by Mr Blair.
Turning to policy, Mr Kennedy focussed on the “grey” vote, promising to provide 75-year-olds with an extra 100 pounds a month and couples with an extra 140 pounds in their state pension.
His party, which is trailing way back in third place behind the Conservatives and Labour still hopes to make big gains on election day.
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour Party held its lead in the opinion polls on Saturday, five days before the British general election, despite controversy over Iraq.
A daily Populus tracker poll for The Times and ITV television put Labour at 40 per cent, compared with 31 pc for the main opposition Conservatives and 22 pc for the Liberal Democrats.
The findings, based on interviews with 1,428 adults between Monday and Thursday, suggested that a furore over the legal advice on which Blair took Britain into the Iraq war has not hurt Labour’s chances.