01 May 2010
The three party leaders embarked on a whirlwind rush around the country on the final weekend before the May 6 General Election, encountering supporters, hecklers and protests as they battled for votes.
Polls in the Sunday papers suggested that there was still everything to play for in the tightest election for a generation, with Conservatives extending their lead but still looking unlikely to secure an outright majority.
An ICM survey of key constituencies for the News of the World suggested that a swing from Labour to Liberal Democrats in marginals could let the Tories seize the extra handful of seats which would put them within hailing distance of forming a government with the support of Northern Irish unionists. But David Cameron insisted that he was still fighting for outright victory, and was not thinking about the prospect of post-election deals with other parties.
And Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, boosted by the endorsement of the formerly Labour-backing Guardian, said the contest was now a "two-horse race" between his party and the Tories. He declined to say how many seats he was aiming for, declaring only "the sky's the limit".
Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted he was fighting for his political life as he warned voters that a Tory victory would cost thousands of public sector jobs and cost one million families up to £10 a week in tax credits.
Mr Cameron added the backing of the Sunday Express - which said he offered "a long overdue return to decency and traditional values" - to earlier endorsements from The Times and The Sun. And Tories edged forward in a number of polls for the Sunday papers, recording support of 35%-38%, compared with 23%-29% for Labour and 25%-29% for Liberal Democrats.
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Vince Cable denied that "behind the scenes talks" were under way to determine what would happen in the event of a hung Parliament. And Mr Cameron dismissed talk of deals with the Lib Dems.
Mr Cameron - who faced British National Party protests as he visited Stevenage and Romford - launched his "contract" for the NHS, promising to increase health spending by more than inflation every year, fund extra cancer drugs and scrap targets.
Meanwhile, Mr Clegg urged voters to follow their hearts when they cast their ballots, rather than voting tactically for the party which they thought could win in their constituency.
The Independent on Sunday urged its readers to vote tactically against Conservatives in the hope of securing a hung Parliament in which a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition could usher in electoral reform. But Mr Clegg told voters in Somerset: "Every single vote counts. It's precious. Vote for what you believe in. Vote for the future that you really want."