Byline: Simon Walters
A GENERAL Election could be held in four weeks after Gordon Brown wastold by aides he will never have a better chance of winning - and senior Toriesadmitted they feared defeat.
The Prime Minister is under huge pressure from his closest allies to call anElection on October 25 after new private polls by both parties show him with aclear lead over David Cameron in the all-important ratings for statesmanship.
One of Mr Brown's allies told The Mail on Sunday: 'Gordon is about the only onewho is not convinced that we have to do it now.
'All our research suggests we would win - and win well. But he is so cautioushe will not commit himself.
Unless something unexpected occurs in the next week or so, we are determined tomake him go for it.' Politicians from all three parties were gripped byElection fever yesterday as Mr Brown prepared for the Labour Party conferencein Bournemouth, which begins today.
He will use his speech tomorrow to urge his supporters to help Labour win afourth successive term. He will not announce an Election, but could do so nextweek to sabotage the Tory conference.
If Mr Brown opts to go to the country on October 25, he has until October 2, aweek on Tuesday, to tell the Queen of his decision.
A spokesman for Mr Cameron said the only reason Mr Brown was considering anearly Election was because he knew Britain faced serious problems next year.
'If Gordon Brown calls an Election now it will be because he knows there istrouble ahead,' said the spokesman. The economy is not in great shape and thereare serious problems on a whole range of issues.' The spokesman denied theTories were 'jittery' about an Election after the latest polls showed MrCameron on 33 per cent, six points behind Mr Brown - no better than the ratingsof his predecessor, Michael Howard.
'We have always said that if we get the chance to prove ourselves we will takeit,' said the spokesman.
'The key point we have to get across is why Brown is going early. It can onlybe because he knows things are going to get worse.' But as Tory officials saidthe party had already raised a [pounds sterling]10 million Election fund, other sources wereless bullish. One senior Conservative said: 'We would give anything to avoid anElection now. We have lost our way a bit in the past few months and need timeto regroup.' Labour insiders said one reason for Mr Brown's nervousness aboutgoing to the country is because he is terrified of losing - and beingremembered as the second shortestserving Prime Minister in history.
If Mr Brown gambles on October 25 and is defeated, he will have been in powerfor 120 days. George Canning, who became Prime Minister in 1827, fell ill anddied 119 days later.
Tory morale suffered another blow last night after Stephan Shakespeare,director of the YouGov polling firm and a former polling adviser to Iain DuncanSmith, forecast victory for Mr Brown.
'David Cameron has …