Poll boost for British PM as hung parliament raised
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's governing Labour Party is closing the gap on the Conservatives, a new poll showed Sunday, raising the prospect of a hung parliament at the general election due by June.London - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's governing Labour Party is closing the gap on the Conservatives, a new poll showed Sunday, raising the prospect of a hung parliament at the general election due by June.
The Ipsos Mori poll for The Observer newspaper put the centre-right Conservatives on 37 percent support and centre-left Labour on 31 percent -- the smallest gap for nearly a year.
The centre-left Liberal Democrats were on 17 percent, suggesting the election could end in a hung parliament where no party has a majority.
The Conservatives would likely need a nine percent lead to claim an overall majority in parliament -- 326 seats. The Liberal Democrats currently hold 63 seats.
While commonplace in many other European countries, coalition governments are rare in Britain.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he would not be calling the shots if the election produced a hung parliament.
"Whichever party have the strongest mandate from the British people, it seems to me obvious in a democracy they have the first right to seek to try and govern, either on their own or with others," he told BBC television.
Asked about a hung parliament, Conservative leader David Cameron said: "Frankly, anything is better than another five years of this Labour government.
"But I am working night and day, not for a hung parliament, but for a majority government -- because I do think that in Britain today we have got to take tough and difficult decisions. I would rather have a government that can do that."
He added: "I've never believed the next election is either a shoo-in or a foregone conclusion."
Despite the poll boost for Labour, Brown's personal ratings remain poor, with 34 percent of respondents saying they are happy with his performance and 59 percent saying they are dissatisfied.
Ipsos Mori interviewed 1,006 adults by telephone from November 13 to 15.