British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today said that his centre-left Labour party was facing "the fight of our lives" ahead of a general election due by June next year.
As the party opens its final conference before the election, Brown said the choice between Labour and the main opposition Conservatives would be "starker than ever" as Britain seeks to come through a deep recession.
But his finance minister, Alistair Darling, warned Labour appeared to have lost "the will to live", telling the Observer newspaper: "We don't look as if we have got fire in our bellies. We have got to come out fighting."
The centre-right Conservatives, led by David Cameron, have been leading opinion polls by a wide margin for months, suggesting Labour has an uphill battle to win next year's vote to take a fourth term in office.
"We know this will be the fight of our lives. But we will fight hard because this election is about everything we care about -- fairness and responsibility," Brown wrote in a policy document.
He said Labour had overcome "great challenges" since it came to power under Tony Blair in 1997, but greater challenges lay ahead.