Britain's Brown in third place in wide-open election race: polls
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour party was pushed into third place by the Liberal Democrat party in two new polls Tuesday, confirming a major change in the race for the May 6 election.
The centre-left Liberal Democrats, who have traditionally been squeezed out by Labour and the main opposition Conservatives, have surged into second place after leader Nick Clegg's much-praised performance in a TV debate last week.
A new ICM poll for The Guardian newspaper showed the party has enjoyed a 10-point boost in the past week to 30 percent, behind the Conservatives, who on 33 were down four points, and ahead of Labour, down three on 28 percent.
Meanwhile an Opinium poll for the Daily Express put the Lib Dems up 12 points since last week, on 29 percent, with the Tories down seven on 32 and Labour down five on 26 points.
The results appear to have rattled the Conservatives, who had already seen their long double-digit poll lead over Labour narrow sharply in the last month or two.
They switched a party election broadcast on Monday night from one reportedly attacking Labour to one in which Tory leader David Cameron appealed for a "decisive result" from the election.
"Any other result would lead to more indecision and more old politics -- we might even be left stuck with what we have now," Cameron said -- warning essentially that backing the Lib Dems could see Brown hold on to power.
The Lib Dems' poll boost followed an assured performance by Clegg in Britain's first ever television debate opposite Brown and Cameron last Thursday, but it remains to be seen if they can maintain their support.
Two daily tracker polls Tuesday showed their ratings were already slipping.
The YouGov poll for the Sun put them down two points since Monday on 31 percent, with the Tories up one on 33 percent and Labour up one on 27 percent.
Likewise, a ComRes poll for ITV News and The Independent newspaper had the Lib Dems down one on 28 percent, level with Labour, who were up one, and four points behind the Tories on 32 percent (up one).
ICM Research interviewed 1,024 adults by telephone on April 16-18, while Opinium questioned 1,957 people online between April 16 and 19.
YouGov interviewed 1,509 adults online on April 18 and 19, and ComRes questioned 1,003 adults by telephone on April 17 and 18.
© 2010 AFP