'I will do my utmost'

MANCHESTER - Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted yesterday he could do better but said he was the best person to get Britain out of financial crisis, dismissing calls for his resignation from within his own party.

MANCHESTER - Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted yesterday he could do better but said he was the best person to get Britain out of financial crisis, dismissing calls for his resignation from within his own party.

A poll in the Independent on Sunday newspaper showed voters may be warming to his handling of an economic downturn which forced the government last week to engineer a rescue takeover of Britain's biggest mortgage lender.

But, as his ruling Labour Party meets in the northern English city of Manchester, doubts remain over how long Brown will stay in the job and if he has what it takes to reverse the party's fortunes and repair the economy.

A survey for the Observer newspaper supported most commentators' prediction of a landslide victory for David Cameron's opposition Conservatives at the next election.

But the Independent's poll showed the Conservatives' lead over Labour had shrunk to 12 points from 21 points last month. It indicated many voters do not think Cameron's party is ready for power, and that Labour should not change its leader.

"I always want to do better and I will do better," Brown told BBC television.

The 57-year-old Scot, who presided over a decade of prosperity as finance minister before taking over from Tony Blair in June last year, said Britain would get through the downturn that started with a home loans crisis in the United States and was now affecting all countries.

"I was Chancellor for 10 years. I have got the experience to deal with these events."

Senior ministers, including possible leadership contenders, have publicly rallied around Brown this week. But there has been more speculation at the conference over whether Labour needs a new leader to fight an election due by May 2010.

Critics say the government has done little to help people cope with the economic downturn as Britain faces its first recession since the early 1990s, with rising inflation and unemployment.

They also blame Brown for failing to spot the financial crisis coming when he was finance minister, as banks took on ever more risk in their hunger for profit. - Reuters

X