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Thatcher warns of 'dictatorship'

Thatcher
Thatcher accused Blair of eroding Britain's power  


LONDON, England -- Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has warned of an "elective dictatorship" if Labour wins the election.

Britain holds a general election on June 7, with the Labour Party widely expected to win.

Some opinion polls suggested the Conservatives could suffer a worse defeat than in 1997 when the Labour leader swept to power with the biggest majority in 150 years.

"I applaud strong government, but not overweening government sustained by cronies, ciphers and a personality cult," Thatcher wrote in the Conservative-supporting Daily Telegraph newspaper on Friday.

Thatcher accused Blair of eroding Britain's power in the European Union by allowing vetoes to be stripped away and of being prepared to abolish the pound in favour of the euro.

"At a time when our country's future as an independent nation lies in the balance, (a landslide for Blair) is a risk too far. It is not too late to vote to prevent that," she said.

Blair responded to Thatcher's attack, saying it was part of a "sneaking" strategy by William Hague's Conservatives to incite apathy within the electorate.

Blair won a 179-seat majority in the 659 member parliament in 1997 election.

"We have the extraordinary spectacle of the Conservative Party either asking people not to vote, or to vote Conservative, not because they have anything to offer ... but in order to reduce a so-called Labour majority in an election that hasn't happened yet," Blair told a news conference.

Some polls have suggested many Britons have still not decided whether to vote next Thursday and that the turnout could be the lowest since World War I, Reuters news agency reported.

If turnout falls below 70 percent, it will be the first time this has happened since 1918 when 57.2 percent of the electorate voted.

The Conservatives had hoped to boost their share of the vote by emphasising their stand against the European single currency with "Save the Pound" rallies across the country.

Blair favours joining the euro after the election subject to the right economic conditions and approval by Britons in a referendum.







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