Brown takes the biggest blow for Labour since the 1950s
As if things could not get any worse for Gordon Brown, local elections have risen to strike another blow against the Government. In an election result, the likes of which have not been seen since the golden days of New Labour back in the mid 1990s, the Conservatives smashed the Labour Party across the country securing over 200 seats and the Governments losing around 300 seats. The Liberal Democrats had a disappointing night, gaining around 30 seats but a silver lining appeared when the BBC revealed that their share of the national vote was 1% higher then Labour, putting the Government in third place at 24% compared to 25% for the Liberal Democrats. The Conservative Party was in buoyant mood when the poll put them on 44% enough to secure a majority of over 120 seats, if such results were to occur in a General Election.
Whichever way the results are put, they are disappointing for the Labour Party. 331 Councillors down, reduced from 27% of the National Vote to 24% and 9 councils lost, including some in their midland and northern heartlands. The Conservatives picked up 256 new councillors, 12 new councils and increased their share of the vote by 4%. The Liberal Democrats had to content themselves with 34 new councillors, a single new council and a reduction in a vote by 1%.
Labour was given a further kick in the teeth, when the Conservatives managed to secure the London Mayoralty from Ken Livingstone. The charismatic but gaffe-prone, Boris Johnson, beat the former Mayor of London by over 100,000 votes making for more depressing reading from the point of view of the Prime Minister.
The week worsened for the Prime Minister when Scottish Labour Leader, Wendy Alexander made what could be one of the most important political decisions ever taken by a Scottish Labour Leader, when she decided to push the First Minister Alex Salmond to call a referendum on independence. Mrs Alexander told Alex Salmond to ‘bring it on’ and the Prime Minister was humiliated at Question Time as he tried desperately to get out of the mess his Scottish counterpart had put him in. Leader of the Opposition David Cameron battered the Prime Minister on other issues as well including early release schemes and called on Mr. Brown to ‘stop the PR and start being a PM’.
Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg also stuck the boot in when it came to the 10p Tax Revolt, saying that as a matter of principle the Prime Minister should compensate those that are going to lose out from the tax changes.
The Weekend Newspapers though have not given the beleaguered Prime Minister any respite. Saturday saw the release of Cherie Blair’s Memoirs in the form of a serialisation by The Times, she claimed that Mr. Brown had ‘rattled the keys’ of No.10 to get Tony Blair out earlier and that Mr. Blair was now helping Mr. Brown to get through this politically damaging times, rumours which have been denied by senior Brown aides. The Sunday papers are even worse, with John Prescott’s Memoirs stating how he had advised the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to sack the Chancellor as well as describing the PM as ‘annoying, bewildering and prickly’. An Observer Poll has also shown the Prime Minister being rated as ‘worse then Cameron’ on all tests that they conducted on public feelings.
The Prime Minister is going to have to act fast to stop the rot, with most political commentators speaking of the Conservatives waltzing towards a landslide akin to 1997, a possible third revolt on benefit cuts in the Budget and a personal poll rating even worse then his predecessor at his most unpopular this looks like another tough week for the Prime Minister and the Government. As ever, RaW News shall keep students up to date with all the latest events and provide analysis.
Chief Political Correspondent