Eastenders star campaigns for Labour

CELEBRITY took centre stage in the Norwich North by-election yesterday as former EastEnders star Michelle Collins turned out to campaign for Labour candidate Chris Ostrowski.

CELEBRITY took centre stage in the Norwich North by-election yesterday as former EastEnders star Michelle Collins turned out to campaign for Labour candidate Chris Ostrowski.

While Labour has been unable to coax its biggest star - the deselected Ian Gibson - into the spotlight, the party had no such difficulty persuading Ms Collins, better known as Cindy Beale to soap fans, to put in a brief appearance on a walkabout in shops in Woodcock Road.

By contrast, the Tories were taking things more seriously, with shadow chancellor George Osborne making his second visit to see Chloe Smith as part of a focus on jobs in the wake of yesterday's unemployment figures.

And the Lib Dems mixed a bit of both, with former leader Charles Kennedy, who has done presenting stints on TV shows such as Have I Got News For You, meeting voters in Gentleman's Walk.


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Ms Collins, who is appearing at the Theatre Royal, chatted with shop-keepers and customers and bought a lottery ticket but did not give an official interview for “contractual reasons”. But did she fancy a career in politics? “I've been a Labour Party member for a long time, so I have done things like this before,” she said. “I'm not sure; maybe one day. All women should be politicians!”

Mr Kennedy, who was lending his support to candidate April Pond, said: “I am the embodiment of the Lib Dems in this day of all days. You get serious experienced national political input or you get a bit of 'Je ne sais quoi' with it. That's what you need to do in a by-election campaign.

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“We know that thousands upon thousands of Labour voters are disenchanted. Will they stay at home and withhold their vote; will they come out and vote for a viable third choice, the Lib Dems; or will some of them cross the aisle completely and vote for David Cameron's Conservatives?

“If that switch isn't as significant as you might expect, that has got big implications for what may well happen in the next general election across the country as a whole. The jury is out with one week to go.”

Tory candidate Chloe Smith, whose campaign has been boosted by daily visits from key shadow cabinet figures including Mr Osborne, William Hague and David Cameron, said: “For me it's a great opportunity to show the 'big guns' exactly what we are about here in Norwich, and that's some very serious stuff: job issues and questions around the economy."

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