Tories stay top favourites for May 6 poll

Campaigning in Britain on Monday reached feverish pitch as leaders went in for the final push.

Updated: May 03, 2010, 22:11 PM IST

London: Campaigning in Britain on Monday
reached feverish pitch as leaders went in for the final push
as opinion polls and pollsters showed the Conservatives up
ahead, but still short of an outright win.

With just three days to go before a knife-edge
election on May 6, the Tory leader and would be Prime Minister
David Cameron said, he was not taking anything for granted and
there was several days of intense campaigning to go.

As some pollsters predicted a hung parliament, the
politicians faced difficult questions from voters on the
campaign trail.

As the Tory leader claimed there was not an ounce of
complacensy in his body, the Labour leader and current prime
minister Gordon Brown did not appear to throw in the towel,
vowing he proposed to "fight for every inch".

Brown, already mired in the controversy over calling a
die-hard Labour supporter "a bigoted woman" continued to face
embarassing moments as he attribueted passages to the wrong
book of Old Testament, while out campaigning in a church.

The sober Scots attempt to keep his job intact has
been battred by gaffes and misteps and the polls suggest the
Labour may finish second or even a humiliating third.

There is already much talk about the successor to
Brown after Labour loses the election. Contenders include the
current foreign secretary David Miliband, education secretary
Ed Balls and trade secretary Peter Mendelson.

Cameron, Brown and Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg
criss-crossed the country, making their pitch before an
increasingly lukewarm public in towns, villages and on the
news media.

Back-stage, party strategists were working on
possibilities in the event of a hung parliament.

Brown hinted that he would not try to cling on to
power by doing deals with other parties if Labour suffered a
decisive defeat.

He also indicated that he would step down as leader
of the Labour party.

"Of course, I respect the view of the electorate, I
am a democrat," he told The Observer when asked about his
post-election options if Labour ended up in third place after
Tories and the Liberal Democrats.

Party leaders indulged in personal attacks with
Cameron calling Brown a "shrunken figure," and reflecting
Clegg`s popularity after the three television debates, Brown
compared Clegg to a "TV gameshow" presenter.

Admitting that the Labour party was now the
`underdog`, Brown said: "I`m fighting for my life, but I`m not
fighting for myself, I`m fighting for the British people.

On his part, Cameron called Brown a "shrunken figure"
and said: "Once hailed as an economic colossus and political
genius, he resorts to desperate smears and hysterical scares."

Meanwhile, Brown has expressed optimism that the
Labour would be returned to power for the fourth time.

Addressing an election rally and answering questions
at Ipswich here this morning, Brown said "yes" when asked
whether his party would be returned to power and he would come
back to the constituency.

"Yes, I have been here before. If you invite me I
will come back. I hope to come back with your Labour MP,"
Brown said.

Earlier he told the gathering that he would continue
to protect the UK "as much as I can against any terrorist
threat to this country."

Referring to the Times Square bomb threat, Brown said
"These are difficult times and we have got to be vigilant."

"I am proud that one of the last acts of the
parliament has been passing the equality bill which prohibits
discrimination based on age or gender," he said.

Meanwhile, Cameron ruled out any coalition deal with
the Liberal Democrats and will try to lead a minority
government if his party failed to get an outright majority.

He claimed that the momentum is with his party after
his confident performance in last week`s final leaders`
debate, Brown`s "bigoted woman" gaffe and a series of polls
showing a fall in Lib Dem support.

Conservatives are ahead in the polls but not enough
to get a majority.

Three days before the closest election since 1992, an
ICM/Guardian poll indicated that the Conservatives will get 33
per cent, Labour and the Lib Dems 28 per cent while a YouGov
poll for the Sun put the Tories on 34, Lib Dems on 29 per cent
and Labour on 28 per cent - pointing to a hung parliament.

Asians will have a decisive voice in the upcoming
elections with a record 89 candidates of Asian-origin
contesting the poll.

Goa-origin Keith Vaz, his sister Valerie Vaz and Dr
Dharmindra Tripathi are among the Asian candidates in the

Tripathi, a GP hailing from Patna, is contesting as
an Independent against the Labour candidate Alan Keen from
Feltham and Heston Constituency.

The current number of 89 Asian-origin candidates
include 30 from the Conservative party.

In the 2005 election, there were 68 such candidates
and the highest number of ethnic minority MPs - 15 - were
declared elected.

As many as 22 Asian women including Valerie Vaz and
Tory`s Priti Patel (from Witham in Essex) are int he first.

Valerie Vaz, a lawyer and former TV presenter, is
contesting from Walsall South on a Labour ticket.

Another leading labour candidate is Bhavna Joshi,
who is seeking election from Central Suffolk & North Ipswich
on a Labour ticket.