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Labour election coordinator denies snap poll planned

Labour's election coordinator today said he had not discussed the possibility of a snap poll with Gordon Brown, insisting the Cabinet was "entirely focussed" on the economic crisis.

Douglas Alexander denied preparations for a general election next year were taking place - such as booking advertising sites.

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet were "getting on with the job" of helping people with soaring fuel and food bills, he insisted.

Mr Alexander, who is also International Development Secretary, was speaking as a new poll showed the Tory lead over Labour had narrowed to just 5 per cent as Gordon Brown benefited from his handling of the global financial crisis.

Mr Alexander told BBC 1's Andrew Marr Show: "As election coordinator I haven't spoken to Gordon Brown about the possibility of an election. We are getting on with the job.

"I am trying to work with other colleagues in Cabinet to take Britain fairly through the downturn - I think that is what the British people would expect of us and that is the entire focus of our work."

It was thought following Labour's surprise victory in the Glenrothes by-election that Mr Brown could come under pressure from some MPs to call a snap poll before the economy worsens further.

But Mr Alexander said: "Of course there will be chatter in the newspapers, there may be chatter in the tearoom but I can assure you at the level of the Cabinet we are entirely focussed on trying to help people with rising food bills rising fuel bills and all the concerns they have got."

Asked whether any part of his working week was spent thinking about a April or May election, he said: "Not a poster site has been booked, we are getting on with the job of focussing on how we can help families through the difficult times they are facing, frankly I think that is what the British people would expect and want from us."

There was some positive news for the Tories today in a poll for the Independent on Sunday. The research by ComRes found they had stretched their lead by three points to 11 per cent over the past month. The Conservatives were on 43 per cent, while Labour was up a point on 31 per cent and the Lib Dems were down 4 per cent on 12 per cent.

However, today's YouGov for the Sunday Times showed Conservative Party leader David Cameron's advantage at its lowest this year, despite the UK heading for recession.

Overall, the Tories were down two points on 41 per cent, while Labour was up three on 36 per cent and the Lib Dems unchanged on 14 per cent.