Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has vowed that his party is “here to win” the crucial Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election.
The Deputy Prime Minister mingled with supermarket shoppers in the aisles as he paid his second visit to the constituency ahead of next week’s vote.
Lib Dem candidate Elwyn Watkins was just 103 votes short of unseating Labour’s Phil Woolas at the General Election last May, making the constituency one of Mr Clegg’s top targets.
Mr Clegg is hoping his party will benefit from voter distaste for Labour due to Mr Woolas’s removal as MP by the courts because of misleading leaflets he put out during the General Election campaign.
He dropped into Asda supermarket in Shaw and emphasised that no deal had been struck with his coalition partners, the Conservatives, after suspicions that Prime Minister David Cameron would secretly hope for a Lib Dem victory.
On his arrival, a handful of protesters – believed to be students – pushed their way through Lib Dem supporters holding placards as Mr Clegg approached the supermarket entrance.
One young woman was bundled away quickly by security staff as she waved a home-made banner directly behind the Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr Clegg later claimed he was unaware that any incident surrounding him had taken place.
Focusing on the by-election, Mr Clegg said: “We are here to win. I think the choice in Oldham East and Saddleworth is much like the choice in the rest of the country. This is the wrong time for indecision. This is the wrong time to duck tough choices and I think the people here deserve more than a blank sheet of paper from Labour.”
The full list of candidates in alphabetical order are: Debbie Abrahams (Labour); Derek Adams (British National Party); Kashif Ali (Conservative); Peter Allen (Green Party); David Bishop (Bus-Pass Elvis Party); The Flying Brick (Monster Raving Loony Party); Loz Kaye (Pirate Party of the United Kingdom); Stephen Morris (English Democrats); Paul Nuttall (UK Independence Party); Elwyn Watkins (Liberal Democrats).