London: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
got a boost from a poll on Tuesday showing his Labour Party closing
the gap on the opposition Conservatives, fuelling its hopes of
avoiding total election wipeout next year.
The new opinion poll also comes amid reports that Brown
-- long dismissed by most commentators as a lame-duck premier
on his way out -- may call elections as early as March to take
advantage of an upswing in support.
"There is still a mountain to climb, but the narrower the
gap the greater the chance of an earlier election," said Tony
Travers, political analyst at the London School of Economics.
Under Britain`s electoral system the Conservatives need
to be 6-7 per cent ahead of Labour to be sure of an overall
majority, he said. "So when they are in the range of 9-10
percent they are close to the danger zone," he told agency.
While current ratings would still give the Tories
victory, Brown aides hope that economic recovery anticipated
in the first quarter of next year will help buoy his support
before general elections due by next June.
For more than a year, polls have given the Conservative
Party -- hungry for power after 12 years in opposition
following former premier Tony Blair`s landslide win in 1997 --
in a double-digit lead over Brown`s moribund Labour Party.