London: The British government is likely to call a snap general election, amid growing optimism of the ruling Labour Party that an opposition Conservative Party victory can be averted, a media report said.
According to `The Sunday Times`, Labour Party chiefs have ordered staff to be ready to fight an election any time from the new year, with a new poll revealing a narrowing of the Conservative lead.
While May 6 remains the likely general election date, Labour`s recent bounce in the `YouGov` poll for the British newspaper means party chiefs are now preparing for an early March 25 poll, the report said.
Even Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week addressed a private "key seats" meeting, when candidates were told to have their campaign literature ready for publication by the end of next month.
To which, the party`s general secretary, Ray Collins, is understood to have told No 10 Downing Street: "We will be ready whenever you decide to go."
Labour Party headquarters are accelerating the process of selecting parliamentary candidates, with bosses set to take new powers in the new year to put the loyalists into winnable seats. The party chiefs are also speeding up the recruitment of dozens of paid organisers to start work next month.
The YouGov poll has put Labour on 31 percent, just nine points behind the Tories, who are on 40 percent. The Liberal Democrats have fallen two points to 16 percent. Only last week, the Conservatives were enjoying a 13-point lead.
The narrowing of the gap is a result partly of voters` enthusiasm for the 50 percent tax on bankers` bonuses above GBP 25,000 announced in last week`s pre-budget report, the newspaper said.
A total of 79 percent of people surveyed thought the City windfall tax was a good idea. But, voters expressed little faith in Chancellor Alistair Darling with 55 percent saying they didn`t trust him to tell the truth about economy.
However, those polled were similarly dismissive about George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, with just one in four -- 26 percent -- saying they thought he was honest.