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Rising temperatures and cold logic

Betsan Powys | 12:09 UK time, Tuesday, 4 May 2010

toryredcard_226x170.JPGWe've reached the point where there are "48 hours to save Wales from" a long list of things.

We've reached the point where there are signs of panic in constituencies where they've managed to disguise it rather well until now.

More of that in a moment.

We've reached the point where Peter Hain appears to have taken the message he's hammered home for many months now - Liberal Democrat (and Plaid) supporters should vote Labour this time to keep out the Tories - a step further and suggested Labour supporters in Tory/Lib Dem marginals should vote Lib Dem.

As the clock counts down and as the temperature rises I think I'd do well to stick to logic. Here we go.

I say Peter Hain "appears to have" urged tactical voting amongst his own as well as amongst others because that, after all, is the logic of what Mr Hain tells the Independent today. He tells the paper:

"I support every Labour candidate and the Liberal Democrat leadership supports every Liberal Democrat candidate. But voters are intelligent and they know what the real fight is in their own constituency. They will draw their own conclusions."

I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to what he meant. This morning, at a sunny Swalec Stadium, Mr Hain was in full blocking mode. He denied he'd meant anything of the kind.

"I do not want people to vote Lib Dem" he said. Watch my lips. It doesn't get clearer than that.

So what is the logic, we asked, of a sentence like "I'm supporting all our candidates but ..."

He was not, Mr Hain, telling Labour voters to vote Lib Dem. That was our - and most people's - reading of what he had said to the Independent. He was saying nothing more, nothing less than he has been throughout this campaign. If you want to keep out the Tories, vote Labour. Anything else was in our - and most other people's - reading of his words.

While we probed the issue of just how perilously close Mr Hain had come to doing something that in campaigning terms is just not cricket - telling your own supporters to vote for someone else to keep your gravest enemy out, a real life cricket match was going on outside. Felt to me like another life, another world actually. Still ...

So we'd tried bowling swing, what about spin?

Wasn't Mr Hain's negative, anti-Tory message starting to appear just a little ... well, negative?

With Carwyn Jones on one side and a giant "red card" on the other, he kept up his attack on the Tories with the sort of vigour I didn't think anyone would have left in them with hours to go until voting booths open.

"Fear of the Tories is really live on the doorsteps" said Mr Hain. He was, he insisted, and indeed Labour were, responding to what they were hearing. There is no appetite in Wales for a Conservative government. It was 'panicked Tories' who found Labour's message negative.

Beyond the boundary, outside in Cardiff West there are signs that it is Mr Hain's own side who are panicking a bit. Labour's Kevin Brennan has sent out a letter to electors which ends on this ominous note:

"There are real choices for Wales in this General Election. Only Labour and Conservative have ever won in Cardiff West and there is a real danger the Tories could win this year."

Let me remind you that Mr Brennan had a majority of more than 8,300 in 2005 and the swing needed for the Conservatives to take the seat would be just over 11%.

Back at the Swalec Stadium my colleague, David Cornock commissioned by Radio Wales to prepare a package on the highs and lows of the campaign for a few ideas of Labour highs. Could Mr Hain help?

"Chelsea won on Sunday!" said the Welsh Secretary. Even the girl in the room knows they play in blue.


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