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Blair fears landslide predictions

LONDON, England -- Talk of a Labour landslide at the UK General Election on June 7 has been dismissed as "pie in the sky" by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

With the latest opinion polls predicting Blair's Labour government will be returned for a second term on Thursday, with a larger majority than in 1997, he warned against apathy.

Labour insiders fear that party supporters will not bother to cast their votes if they think victory is assured -- a scenario that could benefit the opposition Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties.

Calling on supporters to register their vote, Blair said on Sunday: "I would just like to point out to people, we've not actually had this election result at all and if people want the things that we want·people have got to come out and vote for it.

"What the Conservatives are trying to do is simply to get people to stay at home or to vote Conservative, not because of what they stand for or believe in but simply in order to suppress the so-called Labour majority that hasn't even happened."

The latest Tory campaign poster, to be unveiled on Monday, abandons any hopes of winning the election but, showing a picture of a grinning Blair, invites voters instead to: "Go on, burst his bubble."

An ICM survey in the News of the World tabloid newspaper on Sunday points to a 197 majority for Labour, while a Sunday Times-NOP poll gave Blair a 217 seat majority, an Observer-ICM poll a 170 seat majority and a Sunday Telegraph-Mori poll a 233 margin.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who became involved in a fracas with a member of the public during the election campaign, also appealed against voter apathy.

He recalled the party's defeat 30 years ago when Labour was 18 points ahead in the opinion polls, but was beaten in a shock result by Edward Heath's Conservatives.

"When I was elected in 1970 we were 18 points ahead and we lost it. We were all shocked greatly," Prescott said.

Labour is also worried about the Conservatives' strategy of warning of the dangers of a Labour landslide.

Tory leader William Hague has said it would be "extremely dangerous" for Britain to have a repetition of Labour's resounding victory in 1997.

Tory leader William Hague says a Labour landslide would be "dangerous"  

Tory premier Baroness Thatcher has said Britain risked being run by an "elective dictatorship."

Labour has dubbed the Tory tactic as the "the Queensland effect" after the state election in 1995 in Queensland, Australia, when conservatives used a "backdoor" strategy to produce a last-minute swing in their favour.

Premier Wayne Goss was way ahead in the polls, 75 percent of voters believed his Labor party would triumph and he had been widely expected to win a third term.

But the National Party leader Rob Borbidge based his campaign on the message that the incumbent government was "arrogant and took voters for granted."

On polling day, Goss scraped in by just one seat, and months later his party lost a by-election which ushered in the National Party.

:: The head of an Internet website set up to encourage tactical voting in the UK poll predicts that the Conservatives could be pushed into third place after a "massive groundswell of anti-Tory interest."

In recent day more than 50,000 voters have contacted a number of websites targeting more than 150 constituencies where the Tory candidates is vulnerable to "vote swapping."

One of the sites - www.Tacticalvoter.Net - has attracted over 150,000 "hits" since the election campaign began.

Jason Buckley, Director of Tacticalvote.Net said: "It only needs 280,000 voters in 84 constituencies to reduce the Tories to a rump party and propel the Liberal Democrats into second place and with tactical voting this is now on the cards."

• The Labour Party
• The Conservative Party
• The Liberal Democrat

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