Nervous Gordon Braced for Bad Polls; (1) Pressing On: David Cameron Leaves Home with the Papers Today - (2) Tight-Lipped: Gordon Brown Opens Basildon Hospitals Cardiothoracic Unit Today. the Prme Minister Refused to Comment When Asked about a General Election Date in November

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Byline: JOE MURPHY

GORDON BROWN wore a distinctly nervous grin today when asked about aNovember election.

Amid heated speculation that the Prime Minister is backing away from a snappoll, he kept his lips shut during a hospital visit.

With three polls being rushed out overnight, early unofficial indications arethat Mr Browns 11-point lead has been slashed to just four or five points.

That is based on fieldwork carried out before Mr Camerons keynote speechwhich means the lead could be even lower in weekend surveys.

One senior Labour source said there was evidence of a big Cameron bounce afterthe Tory conference. But the same insider pointed out that ousted Conservativeleader Iain Duncan Smith enjoyed a seven-point boost after one of his speeches.

Meanwhile, there were signals in Whitehall that there will be no decks-clearingSuper-Monday of statements on Iraq, the Chancellors three-yearly spendingreview and Pre-Budget Report. This might imply a delay.

Decision day is set to be Sunday when Mr Brown holds a council of war withadvisers. But the impression around Westminster was of enthusiasm cooling forthe 1 November or 8 November options.

Mr Brown was giving nothing away. When a reporter called out Smile, if its aNovember election!, the Premier replied with a grin. But did it reflect theconfidence of a man ready to gamble everything?

Or perhaps a near-grimace as he ponders the favourable reaction to DavidCamerons speech?

Mr Brown was not short of advicewith London Mayor Ken Livingstone protesting that an autumn election was adreadful idea. I think you need an election as the suns bursting out at thebeginning of summer, the Mayor told BBC radio.

Mr Livingstone has his own motives for wanting a delay. As revealed in lastweeks Standard, he fears voter fatigue if Londoners are asked to come out bothin November and in the mayoral election next May, putting his own hopes ofre-election in danger. The first public verdict on the party conference seasonis due at 7pm tonight with a snap survey of marginal seats for Channel 4 News.

ICM is then polling for the Guardian, Populus is conducting a survey for theTimes andYouGov is organising snapshots for the Telegraph and the Sunday Times. …