Monday, 28 September 2009

Britain's Brown defends his leadership

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Sunday that his governing Labour Party faces "the fight of our lives" ahead of a general election due by next June.
However, as the party gathers in Brighton for its final annual conference before the election, his Chancellor of the Exchequer warned that Labour appeared to have lost "the will to live".

"We don't look as if we have got fire in our bellies. We have got to come out fighting," Alistair Darling told The Observer newspaper.

The Conservatives have led opinion polls by a wide margin for months, suggesting Labour has an uphill battle to win next year's vote to take a fourth straight term in office.

The party conference season effectively kick-starts election campaigning.

"We know this will be the fight of our lives. But we will fight hard because this election is about everything we care about -- fairness and responsibility," Brown wrote in a policy document.

"Our task is to show not just what has been done but what can be done: to set our case for the next Labour government -- the first of the new economic era.

"By 2015, we want our country to be fairer, greener, more prosperous and democratic."

Two newspaper surveys confirmed the Conservatives' lead Sunday.

An ICM poll for the News of the World put them on 40 percent and Labour on 26 percent, while a BPIX/Mail on Sunday poll put them on 40 and 25 percent respectively.

The ICM survey also revealed that just 20 percent think Brown is the best man to be premier when compared with Conservative leader David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats' Nick Clegg -- while 43 percent picked Cameron.

There was some good news as the poll revealed that 48 percent of voters think Labour has at least has a "slim chance" of winning the election.

ICM interviewed 1,003 adults by telephone on September 23-24 for the poll.

Brown said he was gearing up for the battle ahead.

"My fight is for the future of Britain, my fight is for an economy that delivers jobs that are sustained, my fight is for a society where, in an insecure world, people are far clearer about the responsibilities they owe to people as well as clear about the rights they have," he told the BBC.

Brown said he expected to see figures "pretty soon" that would show his economic policy was working to bring Britain out of recession.

He also said he was bringing forward legislation in the coming weeks to ban excessive banker bonuses for short-term deals and punish banks which continue to pay them.

"Enough is enough. I am not going to stand by and allow people to return to...the bad old days," said Brown.

"We will have a new Business and Financial Services Act as well that will ban the old bonus systems and make it impossible for firms to go back to using them.

"It will also say that where there is bad behaviour, the Financial Services Authority will have the right to intervene and where companies are not prepared to act in a way which is consistent with all the new proposals about the fair treatment of bonuses and remuneration there will be penalties imposed on these companies."

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