London: Done in apparently by Gordon Brown`s
`Duffy moment`, the ruling Labour party on Friday turned to former
prime minister Tony Blair to help shore up its fading
Blair will hit the campaign trail tomorrow visiting
marginal seats in south-east England, as the Labour seeks to
undo some of the damage inflicted by Brown`s encounter with
pensioner Gillian Duffy in Rochdale on Wednesday.
Brown`s public gaffe calling the life-long Labour
supporter a `bigoted woman`, appears to have hit the party
badly as it has slid down in opinion polls, trailing a poor
third, ahead of the May 6 election.
Commentators and bloggers have already dubbed the
incident as the `Duffy moment` that may well cost the Labour
party the May 6 election.
Though Blair would undertake a big election campaign, he
is not expected to appear alongside Brown. The former prime
minister has not appeared in his party`s campaigns so far.
His appearance on the electoral scene come at a time when
early opinion polls are indicating that Brown and the Labour
party, ruling Britain since 1996, are at number three position
behind the Tories and Liberal Democrats.
Blair`s return to the cut and thrust of electoral
politics has been welcomed by Labour supporters who are
concerned with the dwindling fortunes of the party in opinion
polls, but his re-entry has been regarded with much cynicism
by people not attached to the Labour party.
A Guardian reader wrote: "Tony Blair used real WMD on
Iraq. I expect that he will be the ultimate WLD (Weapon of
Labour Destruction) in the coming election".
"So, if Blair saves the future of Labour party, I can
only feel sorry not only for that party but for the whole of
the UK," he wrote.
Blair is also scheduled to visit several constituencies
in north-west England next week, including some that adjoin
Rochdale. His itinerary was reportedly prepared before the
Brown gaffe, and may now be reviewed.
Unlike the Conservative party, whose posters are seen all
over the UK, including in the countryside, Labour`s campaign
is remarkably low key.
The Labour party is also seen as being seriously short of
Launching a Labour poster campaign in the West Midlands
today, an unfazed Brown told supporters: "The time for debates
has finished and the time for decision has begun... We will
continue to fight for the future of this country until the
very last second of this election campaign".
Brown was scheduled to face a grilling on BBC later
tonight in an interview with Jeremy Paxman, one of the most
feared interviewers in British television journalism.