British PM to take 'full responsibility' if loses election

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 polls showing Brown's Labour is heading for defeat on Thursday after 13 years in office, the embattled premier insisted there was still all to play for as thousands of voters had not yet made up their minds.

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'll have to take responsibility and 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.

He has previously indicated he would not stand down if he did not secure a majority, but his latest comments raise questions about whether he might quit and make way for a figure like Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

All three main party leaders have now 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 24-hour "campaign for change" tour which will see him electioneering through the night and into Wednesday before a final campaign rally in Bristol, southwest England.

Cameron said he was "fighting for change" and "fighting to win" the election in which opinion polls suggest his party will emerge winner, although not necessarily by a clear majority.

In fresh blows to Brown's party 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 his cabinet including close ally Ed Balls also suggested some Labour supporters should consider tactical voting to block Conservative candidates.

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

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

Brown's centre-left Labour and the centrist Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg, 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 Iraq war switched their support to the Liberal Democrats at the last general election in 2005.

A YouGov/Sun newspaper daily poll put the Tories 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.

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.

"We have a very tough fight on our hands, that's for sure ... 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 the rural northwest.

© 2010 AFP

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