Brown takes a beating

2010-05-01 09:13

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s re-election hopes took a

fresh battering today with the loss of a key media endorsement and a poll

confirming his Labour Party was in third place ahead of the May 6 vote.

Sensing weakness, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg attacked

Labour as a spent force and claimed the final few days of the election campaign

would be a “two-horse race” between his party and the main opposition

Conservatives.

Clegg was boosted by the endorsement of The Guardian

newspaper, which traditionally backs Labour but said in an editorial

today that “it is hard to feel enthusiasm” for another five years of

Brown.

The

Times, another leading newspaper which backed Labour in the last three

elections, meanwhile switched to the Conservatives, saying they were the best

prospect to help Britain recover from the global financial crisis.

Labour, in power for 13 years, began this campaign as the underdog

against a strong Tory party. But a huge surge in Lib Dem support after Clegg’s

star turn in televised leaders’ debates unexpectedly pushed them into third

place.

A Harris poll for The Daily Mail Saturday confirmed Labour’s

difficulties, giving them just 24%, down two on the previous week, compared to

33% for the Conservatives (down one) and 32% for the Lib Dems (up three).

The results of the poll, taken just after the third and final TV

debate on Thursday, would give David Cameron’s Conservatives the largest number

of seats but not enough to have a majority, a situation known as a hung

parliament.

Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair returned yesterday to help

shore up Brown’s flagging campaign and in an interview published today he hit

back at what he called voters’ “flirtation” with the Lib Dems.

Blair said: “I do believe in the end that there will be a sense

that the Lib Dem flirtation is an interesting thing to do but it’s not a serious

thing to vote for.

“The fact that it might seem an interesting thing to do is not the

right reason to put the keys of the country in their hands,” he said.

Blair’s return, his second appearance on the campaign trail, came

just two days after Brown became mired in a major row after being overheard

dismissing a Labour voter as “bigoted” for asking him about immigration.

Numerous apologies failed to contain the damage, nor did Brown’s

performance in Thursday’s TV debate, which focused on the economy, an issue on

which the former finance minister was expected to shine. – Sapa-AFP


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