DERBY, England – Britons angered by their lawmakers' lavish expense claims say they will exact revenge at the ballot box next month, with ruling Labor set to be the prime target.
British politicians often lament voter apathy but headlines about members of parliament (MPs) reclaiming the cost of everything from biscuits to swimming pool cleaning have roused the wrath of voters.
I think it's quite disgusting. Colleagues and friends talk about it a lot and we all feel betrayed, said Dave Prior, 60, who runs a drainage company in central England.
Labour has lost control of everything, added Prior, who was visiting the Westfield shopping center in the city of Derby.
Prior said he would vote Conservative in European and local elections on June 4 in what will be the last major test of public opinion before a general election due within a year.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, trailing the Conservatives in opinion polls, launched center-left Labour's election campaign at a school close to Derby Thursday.
During his speech, Brown briefly dropped the campaign script to announce that he had suspended a former Labor minister for reportedly over claiming 16,000 pounds ($24,200) on a mortgage.
Labor, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats -- the three largest political parties at national level -- have all seen their images tarnished by the expenses scandal, coming when the country faces its toughest economic times for decades.
LABOR SLUMP IN POLL
But voters seem to be putting most blame on Labor, in power nationally for 12 years.
Support for Labor has dropped to an all-time low of just 22 percent, according to a YouGov survey published in the Sun newspaper Friday. The Conservatives were on 41 percent, enough to give them a landslide win at a general election, due within the next year.
I voted Labor last time. I won't be this time around. I will look beyond the big three parties, said Joseph Clarke, who was selling subscription TV services in the shopping center.
Clarke, in his early 20s and a first time voter at the 2005 general election, said he would support the anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the European elections.
UKIP took almost 15 percent of the vote in the 2004 European elections in Britain, a country lukewarm toward EU integration.
His older colleague, who would not give his name, said he would be supporting the anti-immigration British National Party (BNP) after voting Labor all his life.
Some political commentators say the BNP stands to benefit from disaffection among Labour's core working class supporters who are worried about rising levels of unemployment. The BNP is seeking to win a first seat in the European Parliament.
The Derbyshire area returned six Labor MPs from its eight constituencies in the last general election. The shoppers in Derby were all more than happy to talk about politics, but it was hard to find much backing for Labor.
I won't be voting for Labor, that's for sure. They've made a hash of things, said Des Pearson, a 48-year-old company director who voted Labor when Tony Blair came to power in 1997.
Pearson now wants Conservative leader David Cameron to end Labour's rule.
All the parties have got their noses in the trough, but I think it's time to give Cameron a chance, he added.