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Blair lead up in UK election race

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Blair faces tough challenge in bid to be the first Labor Party leader to win a third full term. CNN's Robin Oakley reports (April 11)
UK election
Tony Blair
Michael Howard
Great Britain

LONDON, England -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair is on course for a record third straight election victory on May 5 but with a reduced majority, according to the latest opinion polls.

A YouGov survey for Friday's Daily Telegraph newspaper found Blair's ruling Labour Party had extended its lead over Michael Howard's main opposition Conservative Party in recent days, during which all main parties published their policy programs.

The poll put Labour on 38 percent, up two points from the same poll on Monday, while the Tories slipped three to 33 percent. Britain's third party, the Liberal Democrats, gained two points to 22 percent.

Most polls suggest Blair is on course to win, although many analysts believe his majority in parliament will be cut.

All parties are working hardest in seats where their rivals enjoy only small majorities, and to unseat Blair, the Tories need to perform better in these constituencies than elsewhere.

The survey also suggested Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy would see his party's representation in parliament slashed from 55 to 41.

An ICM survey for Channel 4 news indicated that Labour would be down from 408 to 384 seats while the number of Tory MPs would increase from 165 to 193.

Meanwhile on Friday, Howard was set to increase pressure on Labour over immigration as the row over the murder of a policeman continued.

The government Thursday apologized over the killing of DC Stephen Oake at the hands of a failed asylum seeker and al Qaeda operative, which Howard blamed on the "chaos" in the asylum system. (Full story)

The Conservative leader will accuse Blair of subverting British values by giving immigrants and travelers special treatment, the Press Association reported.

Labour is turning its attention to women voters, with Chancellor Gordon Brown launching a concerted drive to win the support of a group that party strategists describe as "school gate mums."

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems will highlight its commitment to protecting the environment, claiming that they are "the only choice" for voters concerned about green issues.

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