Blair on Brown: It's like a marriage

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Tony Blair and Gordon Brown renewed the vows of their political "marriage" last night in the latest attempt to convince Labour supporters to return to the fold.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown renewed the vows of their political "marriage" last night in the latest attempt to convince Labour supporters to return to the fold.

Crowning the Chancellor's triumphant return to the centre stage of the party's election campaign is his first joint newspaper interview with Mr Blair for a decade. In it the Prime Minister compared his relationship with Mr Brown to that of husband and wife.

Admitting "occasionally you can disagree", Mr Blair says: "You come into the Labour Party because you believe in a fairer society. So the personal bond, like a marriage, is also a political bond." The interview in the News of the World is confirmation that Labour thinks it has achieved a "Brown bounce" as a result of the Chancellor's return.

Three polls last night all suggested that Labour is heading for a sizeable majority. A Mori poll for The Observer and Sunday Mirror puts Labour seven points ahead among those certain to vote, with 40 per cent against the Conservatives' 33 per cent and the Liberal Democrats' 19 per cent. Labour's lead is a more modest four points in an ICM poll for The Sunday Telegraph, with 38 per cent, against 34 per cent for the Tories and 20 for Charles Kennedy's party. A YouGov survey in The Sunday Times gives Labour a smaller lead of just two points, with Labour on 37, against the Conservatives on 35 and the Liberal Democrats on 21.

The parties began trailing their manifestoes this weekend with Labour seeking to emphasis its green credentials in a bid to woo mostly middle-class supporters who opposed the war in Iraq.

The Tories are also unleashing a swath of policies from banning GM crops to colour-coding car tax disks.

Labour plans new laws to protect the sea, exclusively forecast by The Independent on Sunday last September. It represents a victory for the environment ministers Margaret Beckett and Elliot Morley who persuaded the Prime Minister to adopt it despite opposition from Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. It will set out to "zone" the seas, protecting important wildlife areas while marking out others for oil and gas drilling, windfarms, dredging for sand and gravel, and shipping. It is also likely to include special "no take zones", where fishing is banned, which have proved spectacularly successful in reviving fish stocks elsewhere in the world.

The Conservative plans are similar, promising "to provide a coherent and sustainable planning framework that protects marine habitats while enabling beneficial developments such as wave and tidal power".

The Labour manifesto will also reiterate a pledge to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, by 20 per cent by 2010. Labour made the same promise in 1997. New figures published last month showed that emissions of the gas have actually risen.

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