UK's Conservatives double lead over Labour: Poll

Britain's main opposition party has doubled its lead over the ruling Labour party, a poll published on Tuesday showed, more grim reading for Prime Minister Gordon Brown ahead of local elections this week.

UK's Conservatives double lead over Labour: Poll
The elections in England and Wales will be the first ballot box test for Brown since he took over from Tony Blair as prime minister last June. They come against a backdrop of industrial unrest, party in-fighting and growing concerns over the economy.

A poll for The Independent newspaper showed the Conservatives had stretched their lead over Labour nationally to 14 points from seven following a row over Brown's decision to abolish the lowest rate of income tax, a move which left millions of Britain's poorest households worse off.

The ComRes survey, conducted between Friday and Sunday, put the Conservatives on 40 percent, up two points since last month, Labour on 26 percent, down five points, and the Liberal Democrats on 20 percent -- up three points.

The 14-point lead is the biggest enjoyed by any party since ComRes began polling for The Independent in September 2006.

"It suggests the controversy over the 10p tax rate has damaged Labour's standing among its traditional working-class supporters ahead of Thursday's local elections in England and Wales," The Independent said.

Labour is expected to suffer in elections on Thursday for seats on 160 local authorities in England and Wales and could lose the high-profile contest for London mayor the same day.

Brown can take some consolation from the fact that Labour suffered a drubbing in the 2004 local elections but went on to a third successive general election victory the following year.

Though Brown and Labour enjoyed an initial "bounce" in popularity after he succeeded Blair, slowing economic growth, declining house prices and worsening consumer confidence -- plus a growing reputation for dithering -- have hurt his standing.

Last week Brown was forced to make concessions to Labour rebels threatening a revolt over his abolition of a 10 pence tax band, promising more help for the lowest paid.

That meant Brown avoided a potentially humiliating defeat in a parliamentary vote on the budget on Monday, although the leader of the rebels, Frank Field, warned they would continue to fight the government if not satisfied with the concessions.

The government has yet to say in detail how it will compensate those affected by the abolition of the tax.

Reuters
Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2008, 15:37
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