Brown closes gap on Tories: poll

LONDON: Prime Minister Gordon Brown's party continued to inch closer to the Conservatives, a poll showed Tuesday, increasing the prospects of a hung parliament just months ahead of a general election.

The ComRes survey showed Brown's Labour Party up two points to 29 percent, nine points behind David Cameron's Tories who are widely tipped to win next year's election after 12 years in opposition.

The Conservatives were up one point to 38 percent compared with last month's ComRes poll for the Independent newspaper.

The results follow a series of surveys in recent weeks also handing Brown a boost, which have prompted speculation that he may call elections as early as March to take advantage of an upswing in support.

While current ratings would still give the Tories victory, Brown aides hope that economic recovery in recession-hit Britain anticipated in the first quarter of 2010 will help buoy his support before elections due by June.

The latest poll also shows about half of voters think the Conservatives, if elected, would mainly represent the wealthy in Britain "rather than the ordinary people."

The figures will encourage Labour strategists aiming to win back traditional working class voters hit hard by the recession and portray the Conservatives as representing only the upper classes, the newspaper said.

The survey was taken over the weekend after Brown took a central role in helping negotiate a deal on climate change at the summit in Copenhagen.

ComRes interviewed 1,006 adults by telephone