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Hain warns voters against giving Blair a 'bloody nose'.

Byline: By KIRSTY BUCHANAN Western Mail

Labour is to launch a fresh offensive against the perils of protest voting as rivals bring the Iraq war and the integrity of Tony Blair to the fore in the second half of the campaign. Welsh Secretary Peter Hain will warn voters that trying to give Mr Blair a 'bloody nose' could end up deliver a 'knockout blow' to Labour as the party rolls out its new campaign slogan, 'If you value it, vote for it'.

Labour hopes to head off calls by anti-war parties to turn the ballot on May 5 into a referendum on the Iraq war and the integrity of the Prime Minister.

In the first two weeks of campaigning Iraq was an issue kept on the back burner. But the Tories, Lib-Dems and Plaid Cymru are trying to press home the idea that voters should send Tony Blair a message.

Conservative leader Michael Howard yesterday urged voters to 'pass judgment' on Tony Blair while Lib-Dem leader Charles Kennedy will today call for May 5 to become a referendum on Iraq.

Labour fears late-playing of the Iraq card will increase tactical voting for anti-war parties, which could inadvertently hand the Conservatives more seats.

Ironically Labour's warnings have been undermined by the party's own success in the polls, which consistently show Labour between five and nine points ahead of the Conservatives.

But Mr Hain warned that even if the polls were right, protest voting for parties like Plaid Cymru could still hand seats to the Tories.

'The danger of trying to give someone a bloody nose is that you can risk delivering a knockout blow.'
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 25, 2005
Words:273
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