David Cameron yesterday stepped up his efforts to woo Liberal supporters.
The Tory leader, who is fighting a surge in Lib Deb support, implored voters to believe his policies would achieve that Liberals supporters are hoping for.
He heaped praise on Tory candidate Caroline Noakes, standing in Lib Dem-held Romsey, while on the campaign trail in Hampshire.
The move is a reaction to Tory fears that a hung parliament is a real possibility thanks to the rise in popularity of Nick Clegg.
He plans to use the “Clegg bounce” to his advantage as his party targets 20 Labour seats they have identified as vulnerable thanks to the surge in support for the Lib Dems. The seats include two held by cabinet ministers Ed Balls, the children’s minister, and John Denham, the communities minister.
He also reinforced his “big society” message, stressing Tory pledges to increase power to “men and women on the street”.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown was also campaigning in the south, with stops in Bournemouth, Weymouth and Southampton.
He attracted criticism for negative campaigning after hitting out at a string of Tory policies.
He pledged support to the NHS with an impassioned speech at the Royal College of Nursing, in which he claimed Labour was the only party who will protect the health service.
He was responding to Tory proposals that could cap public sector pensions and impose a freeze pay on those earning more than £18,000.
Brown received a standing ovation when he claimed: “Your pensions are safe with us. We don’t believe a pay freeze is the way to a better NHS.”
Clegg was campaigning in Scotland, where he held a press conference with Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott.
Polls hold steady
The latest polls continue to show a Conservative lead over the Liberal Democrats, with Labour in third place. An ICM/Guardian poll shows no change, while an Opinium/Express poll shows a small increase in the Tory lead at the expense of both the Lib Dems and Labour. The YouGov/Sun Daily Tracker gives the Tories an unchanged lead of four points over the Lib Dems, but a ComRes/Independent poll shows the Tories with just a one point lead over the Lib Dems.
SNP takes BBC to court
THE Scottish National Party (SNP) said yesterday it had raised the £50,000 needed to launch a legal challenge against the BBC over its exclusion from the live televised leaders’ debates. The party says the publicly funded broadcaster has a clear duty to “properly and fairly reflect the political make-up of this country”.
Balls fined for driving offence
Children's secretary Ed Balls has been issued with a penalty fine of £60 for driving while using a mobile phone.