Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday admitted that Labour Party, struggling in opinion polls and facing criticism that it had run out of ideas after 13 years in power, was “in the fight of our lives” as he launched its manifesto for the May 6 general election describing it as a blueprint for a “fairer future for all”.

“Labour will be restless and relentless reformers — reformers of the market and reformers of the state,” he said announcing plans to secure economic recovery, and promising more jobs and wide-ranging electoral reforms including the right to recall badly-behaving MPs.

Flanked by his Cabinet team and wife, Sarah, Mr. Brown tried hard not to let the gloom show and frequently cracked jokes at the expense of his political rivals and the media. When a reporter from The Sun, which has switched support to the Tories after supporting Labour in the previous three elections, rose to ask a question, Mr. Brown — pointing to a hall packed with Labour activists — quipped: “The media may be unfair, but the audience is fair.”

Asked whether it was proper for Labour to use a public-funded venue — a new National Health Service hospital building in Birmingham — for an overtly party political event like the launch of the manifesto, Mr. Brown retorted that that Tories were spreading this propaganda.

“I know they have been texting you [the media],” he said.

In a sign that the campaign, now in its second week, was getting increasingly confrontational Mr. Brown dismissed the Tories' promise of change as an “empty slogan” and, questioning their economic competence, said their plans were based on a “four-page flimsy document”.

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