Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown is smarting from a second major election blow to his Labour party this month. After a drubbing in the local elections three weeks ago, Labour have now lost their normally safe parliamentary constituency of Crewe and Nantwich in a by-election. The electorate turned a 7,000 Labour majority into one of nearly 8,000 for the Tories.
Brown blamed the economy, saying: “The people want us to address what are very real challenges. Rising petrol prices when people go to the petrol station. Challenges in the supermarket when people see rising food prices. Gas and electricity bills that have gone up as a result of oil prices going up. We will address these problems. The message is absolutely clear, that the direction of the government is to address all these major concerns that people have.”
The Conservative leader David Cameron claimed New Labour had had its day. “I think we are seeing the end of big, top-down, bossy, interfering government. People want something different. People want change. People don’t want a government that just takes all of their money, spends and wastes it, and hits them with ever higher taxes,” he said.
Gwyneth Dunwoody was a hugely popular MP in Crewe and Nantwich for 25 years until she died in April. Not even her daughter, who stood for Labour in this by-election, could divert voters’ attentions from their dissatisfaction with the leadership. And already, there are some voices within Labour who are asking if Gordon Brown is is the man to lead the party into the next general election.