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No holiday for Howard, Blair and Co; ELECTION 2005.

WITH polling day just three days away, none of the major political parties took a Bank Holiday weekend break, with candidates out in force across the country in the hope of swinging a few more votes.

Labour campaigned on their health plans across Britain, with a speech by Gordon Brown and a press conference in which health secretary John Reid highlighted their plans for investment in the NHS.

And Conservative leader Michael Howard delivered a keynote speech in which he set out his "vision for Britain".

Mr Howard's speech in Ashford, near his Folkestone and Hythe constituency in Kent, comes after a warning from former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit that the Conservatives had failed to articulate their over-arching vision for the future of the UK.

The Liberal Democrats promoted their plans to deal with the hospital superbug MRSA and used their final TV election broadcast to brand Mr Blair "the boy who cried wolf" over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Meanwhile Labour health secretary John Reid was joined by public health minister Rosie Winterton and a group of health professionals who supported Labour's programme of investment and warned of their fear of NHS cuts and closures under a Conservative government.

The Health Secretary focused on improvements in cancer services and contrast Labour plans for investment in new anti-cancer drugs and equipment with Conservative plans to subsidise private health care, which Labour claims will take at least pounds 1 billion a year from NHS resources.

During campaigning in marginal London constituencies, Mr Reid repeated Labour's claim that a vote for the Liberal Democrats risks handing victory to the Conservatives - an argument that LibDem leader Charles Kennedy today denounced as "the last refuge of the scoundrel".

Tories promoted their message in Birmingham with a helicopter bearing a banner that the party says is one-third of the size of Birmingham City's St Andrew's football ground.

Campaign briefs

Personal attacks on the Prime Minister during the election campaign could persuade him to quit sooner rather later, ex Labour minister Peter Kilfoyle believes.

Mr Blair has pledged to serve a full third term but Mr Kilfoyle dismissed the idea of him continuing for another four or five years if Labour wins.

"The attacks on him will have got to him very, very much indeed. Tony could very well say 'I've had enough of this'."

No one can accuse the Official Monster Raving Loony Party of lack of forward planning. They have issued their election manifesto for 2525. A key pledge: "The Green Party will be allowed to go around saying 'I told you so' whenever they like."

It may be Two Jags Prescott but it is also Two Lunches Sion Simon, the Labour candidate fighting to retain his Birmingham Erdington seat. He reports that he ate one lunch and then, after addressing Muslim supporters, was obliged to eat a second one.

Liam Fox, co-chairman of the Conservative Party, reckons shadow home secretary David Davis could lose his seat, despite his 'matinee idol good looks'. "Theresa May will keep her seat," said Dr Fox. "So will Oliver Letwin. David Davis's seat is problematic. He's got matinee idol looks, but we'll have to see."
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 2, 2005
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