Britain's economic downturn is likely to be deeper and last longer than expected and could be the worst for 60 years, according to the finance minister.
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper on Saturday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling said the government had failed to get its message across and would battle to persuade a sceptical electorate it deserved another term in power.
The paper's website also quoted him as saying economic conditions presented the ruling Labour Party with its toughest challenge since the 1980s.
On Thursday, the Bank of England predicted two million people could be out of work by Christmas.
Britain's economy failed to grow in the second quarter of the year for the first time since the early 1990s and many economists believe it is already in recession.
Mr Darling's comments suggest growing unease in the highest ranks of the government.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to unveil a package of measures next week to support the economy and the housing market.