Britain's Brown prepares for election battle
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Sunday that his centre-left Labour party was facing "the fight of our lives" ahead of a general election due by June next year.London - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Sunday that his centre-left Labour party was facing "the fight of our lives" ahead of a general election due by June next year.
As the party opens its final conference before the election, Brown said the choice between Labour and the main opposition Conservatives would be "starker than ever" as Britain seeks to come through a deep recession.
But his finance minister, Alistair Darling, warned Labour appeared to have lost "the will to live", telling the Observer newspaper: "We don't look as if we have got fire in our bellies. We have got to come out fighting."
The centre-right Conservatives, led by David Cameron, have been leading opinion polls by a wide margin for months, suggesting Labour has an uphill battle to win next year's vote to take a fourth term in office.
"We know this will be the fight of our lives. But we will fight hard because this election is about everything we care about -- fairness and responsibility," Brown wrote in a policy document.
He said Labour had overcome "great challenges" since it came to power under Tony Blair in 1997, but greater challenges lay ahead.
"Our task is to show not just what has been done but what can be done: to set our case for the next Labour government -- the first of the new economic era," Brown wrote.
"By 2015, we want our country to be fairer, greener, more prosperous and democratic."
Two new surveys confirmed the Conservatives' lead Sunday. An ICM poll for the News of the World put the Tories on 40 percent and Labour on 26 percent, while a BPIX/Mail on Sunday poll put them on 40 and 25 percent respectively.
The ICM survey also revealed that just 20 percent think Brown is the best man to be premier when compared with Cameron and the leader of the centre-left Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg -- while 43 percent picked Cameron.
There was some good news as the poll revealed that 48 percent of voters think Labour -- battered by the recession and an increasingly bloody conflict in Afghanistan -- at least has a "slim chance" of winning the election.
ICM interviewed 1,003 adults by telephone on September 23-24 for the poll.
Labour supporters will hope the party's conference in Brighton, on the south coast of England, can lift the poll gloom, as it effectively kick-starts campaigning ahead of next year's vote.
However, it threatened being overshadowed by new developments in a row over the government's chief legal adviser and her illegal immigrant housekeeper.
Attorney General Patricia Scotland was fined this week for employing Loloahi Tapui, from Tonga, but said she was unaware that Tapui was working illegally and insisted she checked her passport and other documents when she hired her.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, however, Tapui said it was "not true" that she had shown Scotland her passport.
Brown has rejected calls for Scotland to stand down but the Conservatives said the latest revelations made her position "completely untenable".