THE General Election went down to the wire in South Tyneside yesterday as candidates hit the campaign trail and issued final rallying calls.
With just hours before polling stations opened the fight for votes continued.
Labour’s candidate in South Shields, Emma Lewell-Buck, paid a stopover at the town centre’s Asda supermarket in a bid to sway undecided voters.
From there she and her supporters went out door-knocking and later posted ‘Get Out to Vote’ cards through letter-boxes.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “Because of the high profile given to the fringe parties by the media, there are still a lot of people undecided.
“When we’re knocking on doors you see all the different parties election literature beside the doorway, and some people are genuinely confused.
“All I’m saying is that politics is not as complicated as some politicians make out.
“You just have to decide which party is going to make a positive difference to your life.”
The Green Party’s Shirley Ford was out campaigning with her team in the town’s Beacon and Bents ward yesterday afternoon.
She said: “We are picking up quite a lot of support down on the riverside, with regard to the environmental management of the riverside.
“We will be campaigning down to the wire because every vote counts.”
Independent Lisa Nightingale pledged to “keep pounding the streets” in search of votes.
She said: “We’re hitting the streets as we go for that last push.
“The feeling is Labour is not going to walk this. It’s going to be closer than many people think.”
Conservative Robert Oliver issued one last message to the electorate in South Shields “not to throw away what has been achieved in the last five years”.
He said: “We had really good news in recent months over then economy, the increase in employment and getting people off benefit and back into work.
“We don’t want to put that in peril by electing an Ed Miliband propped up by the SNP.”
Meanwhile, UKIP’S South Shields candidate Norman Dennis was in upbeat mood.
He said: “What I’ve encountered going around the doors is very encouraging.
“The feeling that I get is that the people of South Shields are ready for change and if there is to be change, that has to start with the MP. I still believe it’s going to be close.”
Stephen Hepburn, the Labour Party candidate for the Jarrow constituency, highlighted the future of the NHS as a key factor when the electorate cast their vote today.
He said: “There is just one day to go until the General Election, but I strongly believe that the future of the NHS is at risk in the way it hasn’t been for a generation.
“We know that if David Cameron wins a second term there will be a drive for more privatisation, more broken promises and more people waiting longer for treatment.”
Also in Jarrow, UKIP candidate Steve Harrison. was reflecting on a long campaign.
He said: “It’s been a long and tiring campaign.
“We needed to stand to show that Labour can’t take victory for granted.”
The other candidates standing in South Shields are Gita Gordon (Liberal Democrat), and, in Jarrow: Dave Herbert (Green), Nick Mason (Conservative), Stan Collins (Liberal Democrat) and Norman Hall (TUSC).
n Polling stations in the borough will be open from 7am to 10pm today.