Leaders on final votes push in Britain's knife-edge poll

3rd May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's party leaders embarked on one final push Sunday before a knife-edge election on May 6 as polls suggested the opposition Conservatives' lead is up but still falls short of an outright win.

The party's leader, would-be prime minister David Cameron, insisted he was "not taking anything for granted" and that there were still several days of "very, very intense" campaigning to go.

But he pledged a different style of government to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour if he wins -- plus changes like an emergency budget within 50 days and quickly setting up a "war cabinet" on the conflict in Afghanistan.

"I think we've got some momentum now to go through these last few days and say if you want a new prime minister, a new team, a new government on Friday, then vote Conservative on Thursday and we can make the changes the country needs," Cameron told the BBC.

He also criticised Brown's government for what he said was its short-termist gimmickry, adding it had been run "as a sort of branch of the entertainment industry".

"The style of government I aspire to is one of quiet effectiveness," Cameron said.

New opinion polls Sunday put Cameron's Tories ahead, although not necessarily with enough to win an overall majority in the House of Commons.

A ComRes phone poll of 1,019 adults for the Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday put the Conservatives on 38 percent, up two points in the last week.

Labour were on 28 percent in second and Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats were third on 25 percent, down one.

An ICM/Sunday Telegraph phone survey of 1,019 meanwhile gave the Conservatives 36 percent, up one point in the last week, Labour on 29 percent, up three, and the Liberal Democrats on 27 percent, down four.

With the election shaping up as a close battle, different opinion polls have painted different pictures of what is likely to happen, but most agree Britain is heading for a hung parliament, where no one party has an overall majority.

This could leave the Liberal Democrats with the balance of power and see them teaming up with Labour or the Conservatives, or lead to a minority government.

Cameron was out campaigning in southwest England Sunday.

Meanwhile, Clegg was on the campaign trail in northern England, a traditional Labour heartland, where he played down his party's falling ratings.

Most polls on Sunday put the Lib Dems in third position as opposed to the second place they have enjoyed since a recent surge of popularity on the back of Clegg's performances in TV debates.

They have traditionally been the third-biggest party in Britain.

"Anything can change, it's still wide open," he said.

"I think it's really wide open, I really do. It's a very fluid situation, all the parties are going to try very, very hard in the next few days to make the case why to vote."

Brown was doing a whistlestop tour of London, knocking on doors, visiting a church and supporting local Labour lawmakers.

In an admission of the struggle he faces to keep power, he told voters: "I'm fighting for my life, but I'm not fighting for myself. I'm fighting for the British people."

Labour's campaign hit trouble last week when Brown was caught referring to a voter as a "bigoted woman".

The "bigotgate" row took centre stage once again Sunday when the woman, Gillian Duffy, spoke out for the first time since he apologised to her in person.

Although she did not condemn Brown outright, the grandmother told the Mail on Sunday newspaper she was "sad" at his remarks, that she would not vote next week -- and expressed no confidence Labour would win on polling day.

"I'm sorry for you, Gordon, because you have more to lose than me," she said she had told the prime minister when he came to her house to apologise.

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article