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Brown 'best man' for UK: Lord Paul

The NRI industrialist, who is a good friend of the British PM and his wife, plays down speculation over snap general elections.

india Updated: Aug 16, 2007 13:43 IST

Describing Prime Minister Gordon Brown as the "best man" to lead Britain, NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul on Thursday played down speculation over snap general elections.

"I don't think the Prime Minister is the kind of person who will fall for the opinion polls to call for a general election. In my view there is no chance of an early election but it is the Prime Minister's prerogative," Lord Paul, who has pledged to fund Labour Party's election campaign in the event of Brown seeking a fresh mandate, told PTI.

Lord Paul said the prime minister's main task appears to be twofold - first to re-establish people's trust in British politics and second to re-establish Britain's prestige in the world, especially the developing world. "In my view, he is the best man to achieve those objectives."

On funding Labour party's campaign, Lord Paul, British Ambassador for Overseas Business, said "I have been a member of the Labour Party since 1974 and have always supported it. I have no doubt that if and when an election is called I will do my part in supporting the party which is the best party in Britain at present, with the best leadership."

Lord Paul, a philanthropist who helped to save London Zoo from closure with a donation of one million pounds in the early 1990s, is also Chancellor of Wolverhampton and Westminster Universities. The wealth of Lord Paul and his family is estimated to be 1.5 billion pounds.

Lord Paul's financial commitment will remove the Labour's money worries which grew in the wake of the cash-for-peerages row and the party's 20 million pounds debt.

Lord Paul, 76, who has been a friend of Brown and his wife Sarah for several years, recalled that he had written in his autobiography "Beyond Boundaries" 11 years ago that Brown is the best man for the top job.

"I still believe he will prove to be the best Prime Minister this country has had," he said.

In his autobiography, Lord Paul wrote "Brown is a man of vision whose intellectual abilities are supplemented with an ingredient essential for success at the exchequer: he is performance oriented.

"What is more, he has three qualities that I have not often seen combined in any statesman - an extraordinary appetite for work, a constant desire to do what is right for the country and a willingness to learn. Gordon is both tough minded and sensitive, a mix not easy to reconcile. My respect for his personal integrity has only increased as I have got to know him better and to appreciate his character."

Quoting party sources, The Times said the party is confident of raising enough for an early election. Brown is believed to be unlikely to conduct a lavish campaign and may make a virtue of keeping below the spending limit of 20 million pounds.

Brown is facing pressure from within the party to call a snap general election after a succession of polls have given Labour its biggest lead since the Iraq War - a ten point lead over Conservatives.

According to the report, the Labour party has already approached advertising agencies over the handling of its campaign. At least three - including Beattie McGuinness Bungay, run by Trevor Beattie, who was involved in the Tony Blair election victories - are thought to be in the running.

Brown has also recently appointed a new director of election resources, Jon Mendelsohn.

Brown has spent 39 billion pounds in his first seven weeks at No 10 by pre-announcing the release of money from the Comprehensive Spending Review, due in October.

Defence has been promised seven billion pounds extra, the railways 15 billion pounds, housing 8 billion pounds and pre-school education 4 billion pounds.

Normally much of the sums involved would have been announced in the spending review due in October but Brown, with the co-operation of Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, had planned to grab the political initiative and reap the benefits of a political honeymoon.

Lord Paul, who was made a peer in 1996, is the chairman of the 2012 Olympic Delivery Committee.