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British minister warns of disaster

A SENIOR minister in British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour party warned yesterday his government was at risk of electoral disaster, saying it was guilty of a "lamentable failure" to connect with voters.

Brown's woes have been growing this year, with Britain recording a record budget deficit, ministers facing embarrassment over parliamentary expenses and growing reports of unease in his party as electoral support ebbs away.

Brown is currently up to 18 points behind the opposition Conservatives, indicating Labour is facing losing power for the first time since its 1997 landslide win in the wake of Britain's worst economic decline since World War II.

Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears, a usually loyal Cabinet member, echoed views of dissenting Labour politicians that the government needed a dramatic change of direction or it could be routed at the next election due by June 2010.

"Labour's standing has taken a titanic battering in recent weeks," Blears wrote in yesterday's Observer newspaper.

"Labour ministers have a collective responsibility for the government's lamentable failure to get our message across."

The prime minister's personal authority has taken a battering in the past week after he had to back down on plans to overhaul politicians' allowances, a scheme he announced on the YouTube Website.

That came days after he suffered a rare parliamentary defeat over proposals to change rules governing Nepalese Gurkha soldiers' rights to settle in Britain, leading well-known opponents within his party to snipe at his leadership.


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