British Economy Takes Election Center Stage
Britain's Labor government put its economic record at the heart of its re-election strategy on Wednesday as an opinion poll showed it could win a second full term with a bigger landslide than it scored in 1997.
The NOP poll for the Daily Express newspaper suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair would increase his 1997 parliamentary majority of 179 to more 250 in the 659-seat parliament in elections called for June 7.
The NOP poll put Labor on 51 percent, the opposition Conservatives on 31 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 13 percent. Other recent polls have also pointed to a landslide win for the 48-year-old Blair. In a speech in London, Chancellor of the Excheckr (finance minister) Gordon Brown stressed that economic stability would never be put at risk although more than $71 billion would be pumped into schools, hospitals and transport.
"We will stay the course of (economic) stability because it is the foundation of everything we do," Brown said.
Conservative plans to cut taxes come what may reminded him, he said, of their government in the late 1980s when a spiraling boom turned to bust.
The economy should be Labor’s trump card in the run-up to the election. By calling the ballot nearly a year before he had to Blair should also avoid the fallout from a U.S. economic slowdown hampering his re-election drive.
Inflation and interest rates are at their lowest for nearly four decades, unemployment has dropped to its lowest rate in 25 years and the economy is on course for a ninth year of growth.
Conservative leader William Hague insisted on Wednesday that the burden of tax paid by Britons had soared under Labor while key public services had not improved.
"Never has a party taxed so much and achieved so little," said Hague, standing in London's Battersea Park in front of posters attacking Labor’s record on crime and health – LONDON (Reuters)
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