British PM ups tempo with 'Elvis' in election fight

24th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

Prime Minister Gordon Brown was joined by an Elvis Presley impersonator on the campaign trail Saturday as he declared he was "upping the tempo" less than two weeks before Britain's May 6 election.

Welcoming "Elvis" on stage during an appearance in Corby, central England, Brown cracked a joke at the expense of David Cameron's opposition Conservatives, who are leading the close-fought race in the opinion polls.

"Only four percent of people in the world now still believe Elvis Presley is alive," Brown said.

"But I think there is only about four percent of people by the end of this election campaign that will believe that the Conservatives are not a risk to economic recovery in this country."

Brown's Labour Party said he plans to engage more with members of the public in the coming days, after he was outshone by Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats in the first two of three pre-poll television debates.

"As you get nearer to election day you are always upping the tempo," Brown told reporters.

"Of course we are upping the tempo. We are upping the tempo today and tomorrow," said the prime minister, who is battling to avoid being kicked out of office.

Clegg's Liberal Democrats, for years the third party of British politics, have surged ahead in the polls following his strong performances in TV debates on the last two Thursdays.

But one out Saturday indicated that Cameron's Conservatives were still in the lead overall. The Daily Mail/Harris poll of 1,048 put the Tories on 34 percent, the Liberal Democrats on 29 and Labour on 26.

This backs up recent surveys which suggest Britain is heading for its first hung parliament -- where no one party has an overall majority -- since 1974.

Cameron warned of the dangers of a hung parliament while campaigning in Essex, southeast England, saying it would lead to "bickering, horse-trading and arguing" and delay the process of change.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary David Miliband launched a stinging attack on the Liberal Democrats, a contrast to recent days when Labour ministers seemed to be cosying up to the centrists amid speculation the two parties could work together in a hung parliament.

"Anti-politics is fine for opposition, but it is not sufficient for government," Miliband told the Guardian.

"There is a market for anti-politics due to the reaction to the sickening expenses scandal, but it's not a basis for running the country."

The Liberal Democrats' Clegg is taking the day off from campaigning to spend time with his three young sons, who have just returned to Britain after being stuck with family in Spain due to volcanic ash from Iceland.

But he batted away Miliband's comments, telling Sky News television: "Of course you can't govern on a platform of anti-politics. You can govern on a platform of doing things differently."

© 2010 AFP

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