PRIME Minister Tony Blair was facing potentially his toughest week in politics last night as Labour's popularity slumped to its lowest under his leadership.

As delegates gathered in Bournemouth for the party's annual conference, the opinion polls made grim reading.

A YouGov poll for The Sunday Times put Labour on 30 per cent, three points behind the Conservatives and neck-and-neck with the Liberal Democrats.

An ICM poll for the News of the World had all three on 31 per cent, but found that 64 per cent no longer trusted the Prime Minister and 48 per cent thought he should quit.

The views of Labour Party members in Mr Blair's Sedgefield constituency were mixed.

Many at Trimdon Labour Club said they felt disillusioned. Steelworker David Churlish, 53, said: "I think he's finished. I think he's to blame for Dr Kelly's death and I think he should resign."

David Hodgson, 44, a former Labour parish councillor, said: "I used to be staunch Labour but I just think they have lost their way."

Local businessman Alby Rutter, 54, said: "I think it would be bad for the country if Blair resigned. What's the alternative?"

Jake Cummings, 64, said: "He's the only one capable of running the country at the moment."

Mr Blair yesterday signalled his determination to press ahead with plans for foundation hospitals and university tuition fees in the face of opposition from within his party.

He said: ''Whatever the battering, I actually feel more confident of our forward agenda.''

Mr Blair said he had no intention of resigning and that intelligence supported the decision to go to war.

He will not have to face a formal debate on Iraq this week, after constituency parties and trade unions voted to discuss health, employment rights, occupational pensions and manufacturing instead.