Britain facing tight poll as Tories hail last minute momentum

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 the 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.

Brown, meanwhile, insisted there was no "panic" within Labour despite a controversy which caused chaos in his campaign last week when he 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. I'm very sorry that this has happened but it's you who's going to lose out, not me," she said she told the prime minister when he came to her house to apologise.

Brown also turned his fire on the centrist Liberal Democrats, who saw a shock surge of support during the campaign following strong performances in television debates by leader Nick Clegg.

Amid talk Labour and the Liberal Democrats could team up in a possible hung parliament, Brown dismissed Clegg, telling the Observer: "We're not talking about who's going to be the next presenter of a TV game show".

And he attacked Liberal ideas like a regional cap on immigration.

These were the kind of "policies have been dreamt up at a dinner party, written on a napkin then transferred to the back of an envelope. They're not serious," he told the Daily Mirror.

Amid signs that his support is wavering, Clegg hit back, telling Sky News television: "It's a measure of Gordon Brown's desperation that he is resorting to personal insults. I'm certainly not going to return the favour."

© 2010 AFP

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