Voters urge Blair to step down,00.html

David Cracknell, Political Editor

MOST people now believe that Tony Blair should make way for Gordon Brown as premier before the end of the year in spite of Labour’s crushing by-election defeat last week.

On the eve of a speech by Brown on terrorism, a YouGov poll for The Sunday Times has found that Labour would be six percentage points ahead of David Cameron’s Tories, by a margin of 43% to 37%, if Brown was leader. Liberal Democrat supporters, in particular, favour the chancellor.

Blair should be most worried following the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election, in which the Lib Dems overturned a 11,500 Labour majority in a seat where Brown has a home.

The survey found 41% of people want Blair to step down this year to make way for Brown — a majority of the 79% who had a view on the question.

In his speech tomorrow, the chancellor will go well beyond his Treasury remit to call for much tougher laws to combat terrorism, suggesting that if he were prime minister he would try to reintroduce plans to allow the police to hold suspects for up to 90 days without charge.

Blair failed to get this measure through the Commons last year after Labour MPs joined the Tories in rebelling against the new laws. MPs would only vote for a limited extension of detention from 14 to 28 days.

Today’s poll backs the feeling of many Labour MPs that Brown is considered more trustworthy and honest than Blair.

In his speech Brown will reveal that the police and intelligence services have thwarted a further three terrorist atrocities since summer 2005.