British PM to take 'full responsibility' if election lost

4th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Tuesday he would take "full responsibility" if his party loses this week's general election, as ministers urged tactical voting to keep the Conservatives out.

With opinion polls indicating Brown's Labour Party is heading for defeat in Thursday's vote after 13 years in office, the embattled premier insisted there was still all to play for by winning over undecided voters.

But his comments -- plus a call from two ministers for Labour supporters to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrats in some seats -- are being seen as an admission of how much ground Labour must make up in just two days to win.

"I will take full responsibility if anything happens but I still think there are thousands of people who have still to make up their minds," Brown told GMTV television.

He has previously indicated he would remain as Labour leader even if his party did not secure a majority of seats in parliament.

All three main party leaders have embarked on a last-minute whirlwind of campaigning, flitting between swing seats across Britain.

Conservative leader David Cameron was in Northern Ireland ahead of a "campaign for change" last-push tour which will see him electioneering through the night and into Wednesday before a final campaign rally in Bristol, southwest England.

"I am trying to win this election outright. That is what I am shooting for. I have 36 hours left to do it," he told AFP in Belfast.

Opinion polls suggest his party will win the greatest share of the vote, though not necessarily claim an overall majority of seats that would allow it to govern alone.

In fresh blows to Brown on Tuesday, a Labour parliamentary candidate, Manish Sood, described him as Britain's "worst prime minister", while influential business newspaper the Financial Times switched its support to the Conservatives.

Two members of Brown's Cabinet, including close ally Ed Balls, also suggested people should consider tactical voting to stop Conservative candidates winning seats.

Brown's centre-left Labour and the centrist Liberal Democrats are seen as closer to each other than either party is to the centre-right Conservatives.

And many Labour supporters disillusioned by the government's support for the war in Iraq switched their support to the Liberal Democrats at the last general election in 2005.

But Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said: "Many more Labour people are voting Liberal Democrat anyway."

Election expert Professor John Curtice told Sky News television that Tuesday's comments by Brown's allies were "a tacit acknowledgement that the Labour Party is in electoral trouble".

Brown dismissed the suggestion, telling Five television: "I am making it absolutely clear what my advice is: my advice is to vote Labour."

A YouGov/Sun newspaper daily poll put the Conservatives on 35 percent and the Liberal Democrats and Labour both on 28 percent.

If translated to actual results after Thursday's poll, that could mean a hung parliament, in which no party has an overall majority, for the first time since 1974.

This could trigger days of horse-trading as parties negotiate to see whether they could form a coalition or minority government, with the Liberal Democrats possibly holding the balance of power.

"I don't want to have to do deals because I want us to win an outright majority," Cameron told AFP.

Former prime minister Tony Blair took to the campaign trail for the second day in a row in a bid to give Labour a last-minute boost.

"It's very close, it is very tight, there's everything to play for, so let's get out there and play for it," said Blair while campaigning in rural northwest England.

The Electoral Commission revealed that the Conservatives reported total donations of 12.36 million pounds (18.75 million dollars, 14.4 million euros) during the first quarter of 2010, Labour 4.1 million pounds and the Lib Dems 1.93 million pounds.

However, Labour raked in 1.41 million pounds during the third week of the election campaign, the Conservatives 645,250 pounds and the Lib Dems 64,000 pounds.

© 2010 AFP

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