NICK Clegg has begun a final push for votes which will see him travel from Land’s End to John O’Groats in an effort to shore up support in key battleground seats.
In a move aimed at defying national opinion polls which suggest his party could suffer a mauling at the hands of the electorate on Thursday, the Liberal Democrat leader is taking his battle bus on a 1,000-mile (1,609km) “epic journey” across Britain.
“It’s just an illustration of how much I care for our wonderful country and want to communicate to as many people as I can that we need to remain stable and decent and united as a country, not lurch this way or that,” he said.
Mr Clegg hopes that he will be able to save as many of his party’s Commons seats as possible in order to strengthen his hand in any coalition negotiations after polling day.
He insisted that he had not begun talks with either the Conservatives or Labour about a possible deal to support David Cameron or Ed Miliband after the General Election.
Asked what talks there had been, he said: “None at all, no discussions. That’s not the way it’s done.
Do they prefer the stability the Liberal Democrats offer or the shambles and chaos of a lurch to the right or left?Nick Clegg
“We set out what our red lines are - balancing the books fairly, not imposing pay cuts on the public sector, funding the NHS properly, valuing mental health, protecting the schools and nurseries and colleges from cuts, giving further tax cuts to people on low and middle incomes, protecting our environment.
“We have set out those red lines in public, there are no behind-the-scenes discussions going on in private because we now need to await the judgment of the British people about what they prefer.
“Do they prefer the stability the Liberal Democrats offer or the shambles and chaos of a lurch to the right or left?
“Then we will react to the instructions handed down to us from the British people after the election on Thursday.”
Launching his tour of Lib Dem marginals at a windswept Land’s End at dawn, Mr Clegg said: “It’s quite an epic journey.
“I’m starting here in Land’s End, it’s 1,000 miles I’m going to complete between here and John O’Groats, criss-crossing the country visiting lots of Liberal Democrat constituencies.”
Despite his party’s poll ratings being stuck on around 8% nationally, Mr Clegg received a boost on the eve of the last phase of his election tour, with a study indicating he will hold his own Sheffield Hallam seat despite a concerted effort to oust him by Labour.
An ICM poll for the Guardian put Mr Clegg on 42%, a seven-point lead over Labour’s Oliver Coppard on 35%, when both candidates were named.
The constituency poll followed studies by former Tory peer Lord Ashcroft which put Labour ahead without naming Mr Clegg or Mr Coppard.
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