With the deadlock continuing in the opinion polls, members of the ruling Conservative Party grumbled Saturday that Prime Minister John Major's campaign lacked "street fighters" and "razzmatazz."
While prominent Tories expressed their dissatisfaction with the run-up to the April 9 election, Major faced an ugly scene in Luton, north of London, where he tried to drown out jeering from 50 protesters screaming "Tory scum."Major braved the group, shouting to them and to the rest of a large crowd: "You see the face of hatred there. No mob taking to the streets is ever going to stop us coming out and talking to the ordinary decent people."
Opposition Labor leader Neil Kinnock, celebrating his 50th birthday on the campaign trail in Prestwick, Scotland, received a warmer reception at a housing complex for the elderly.
Residents presented Kinnock with a cake with five Labor red candles and the words "To Neil, it's time for Labor, Happy Birthday." Red is the Labor party's color, blue is the Conservatives'.
Major celebrates his 49th birthday today with his wife, Norma, at the prime minister's country residence, Chequers.
His low-key manner and "nice guy" image haven't helped his party move ahead in the opinion polls. Neither has a defensive Conservative campaign, which has contrasted sharply with Labor's confident offensive.
The Conservatives are looking vulnerable largely because of a deep recession that brought 9.4 percent unemployment and a record number of home repossessions and business failures.
The two main parties have been running neck-and-neck in the opinion polls for weeks. A British Broadcasting Corp. poll late Saturday showed Labor with a 39 percent lead, the Conservatives with 37 percent, and the centrist Liberal Democrats with 19 percent.
The prime minister insisted there were no jitters in his party and that it would win re-election with a clear majority.
But in Prestwick, Kinnock said, "As far as I can see it, the (Tory) bridge may be deserted."