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Kinnock tops Thatcher in opinion poll

LONDON -- The Labour Party leads the ruling Conservatives by 15 points and many Britons believe main opposition leader Neil Kinnock would be a better prime minister than Margaret Thatcher, an opinion poll revealed Thursday.

The survey by The Guardian newspaper -- which paralleled other indications of a downturn in Thatcher's political fortunes -- showed Labour secured its largest lead since Kinnock took over the party in 1984.

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The Guardian reported the poll of 1,420 Britons interviewed last Friday and Saturday revealed 51 percent preferred a Labour government, while 36 percent opted for the incumbent Tories.

'More than half of those likely to vote in an immediate general election say they would back Labor, and Mr. Kinnock has passed Mrs. Thatcher as the leader best equipped to be prime minister,' it said of the survey, which found Kinnock favored by 37 percent over Thatcher's 34 percent.

Labor's popularity was rooted in respondent's beliefs that it has superior policies in health and education, two areas people said caused them the most concern, the newspaper said.

The Conservatives led on law and order, but came third behind the centrist Liberal Democrat Party for their handling of the economy, nuclear weapons and relations with the Economic Community.

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Thatcher has come under increased criticism for refusing to relax her anti-inflation policy of keeping a high prime interest rate and releasing more credit to stave off signs of economic stagnation.

Critics also contend she has isolated Britain internationally for her solitary stand of trying to end sanctions against South Africa and opposing plans to reduce defense spending in line with the unraveling of the Warsaw Pact.

Thatcher is in her third term of office and is obliged to hold general elections by mid-1992. Experts believe she will call a late election after an economic revival expected toward the end of the year.

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