Thursday 22 February 2018

Brown in battle call as Labour closes gap on Tories

Daniel Bentley in London

GORDON Brown told Labour activists last night they had 22 days to persuade voters their party was "the greatest force for fairness" in Britain.

At a campaign rally in Leeds, the prime minister sought to energise his party's rank-and-file as the polls showed the Conservative's lead over Labour narrowing to as little as three points.

"It's 22 days until one of the most important elections we have seen," he told Labour supporters at the party's Leeds north-east headquarters.

"Twenty-two days in which we have got to get our message across to the people of this country.

"Twenty-two days in which we have got to get across the view, which I have, that Labour is the greatest force for fairness in this country."

On a day in which Labour tried to throw the election spotlight on what they said was the "risk" Tories posed to the National Health Service (NHS), Mr Brown suggested David Cameron would usher in a US-style health system.

"In the last few months, America has got rid of the old healthcare system it had," he said. "We don't want to go back to that type of system under a Conservative government."

He added: "Labour has been, is and will be the greatest force for fairness in our country.

"Labour stands for securing the recovery, protecting and improving our public services, building the industry of tomorrow and making sure we have a new politics in the country.

"We don't want to go back to the same old Tories of the past. Let's go out and do it."

His upbeat speech came as a Populus poll in 'The Times' showed Labour closing the gap on the Conservatives to just three points. Another poll also showed the margin narrowing, to five points.

Mr Brown dismissed the importance of such "day-to-day" polls but they were welcomed in the Labour camp.

He was challenged by one voter in Leeds about how anyone could trust his promises now when he had broken a 2005 manifesto pledge on income tax.

He was also taken to task on the government's refusal to grant a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty despite previously promising one on the EU constitution.

Right-to-die campaigner Debbie Purdy questioned him about assisted dying. Mr Brown said he did not agree with a change in the law.

He also suggested unemployment might rise again -- a development which could undermine Labour's argument that its government was securing the economic recovery.

Mr Brown earlier insisted to journalists travelling with him on the campaign trail that Labour's promises on NHS treatment were "on the ballot paper" at this election.

"They are going to be on the ballot paper, because we want to continue these guarantees."

Irish Independent

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