Britain’s ruling party rallies for poll fight
London - Senior figures in British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour party sought to rally supporters Saturday, as they prepared for their final gathering before a general election due by June.
Former deputy prime minister John Prescott accused Labour lawmakers of being "defeatist" in the face of dire opinion polls and said they must raise their game if they are to keep the main opposition Conservatives from winning.
"There is no direction in campaigning — we are drifting," Prescott told the Independent newspaper ahead of the Labour party conference, which begins on Sunday and will fire the starting gun for the election campaign.
"We’ve got a whole bank of MPs, but everybody seems despondent. There’s too much defeatist thinking," he added.
A new opinion poll Saturday showed the Conservatives, led by David Cameron, have a 13-point lead over Labour. The YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph found 39 percent backed the Tories, compared to 26 percent who backed Labour.
More worrying for Brown was that 54 percent of the 2,026 people interviewed online on September 22-24 said they believed he should resign as Labour leader.
The prime minister will try to lift the gloom at his party’s four-day conference in Brighton, southern England, seeking to move past criticism over his handling of the economy and the war in Afghanistan.
One of his closest aides, Schools Secretary Ed Balls, admitted Labour needed to show some more spirit, telling the Guardian newspaper: "What we need is more fighters, not quitters."
The party’s election co-ordinator, international development secretary Douglas Alexander, said this week’s conference would give Labour — who have been in power since 1997 — a chance to win over the public once again.
"This conference is the starting gun for a campaign that will last months, in which there will be competing ideas, competing visions and competing parties, and I welcome that contest and welcome the start of that campaign," he told the Daily Mirror.