It has been a very unhappy anniversary for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Exactly a year after succeeding Tony Blair, his Labour party is reeling from a crushing by-election defeat, finishing fifth behind even the Greens and the far-right British National Party.
The nature and the timing of the vote could not have been better for the opposition Conservatives, who won what was a safe seat for them.
Conservative leader David Cameron said: “I think one can argue forever about all the disasters and all the incompetences of the last year, but I think the most important thing is that, at a time when British families are facing high prices at the fuel pumps and every time they do the family shop, I think the most important thing about this prime minister is that he was in charge of the economy for 10 years and he did not put aside money in the good years and so, as a result, at a time when people need help the cupboard is bare.”
Nick Clegg, the leader of Britain’s third biggest party, the Liberal Democrats, joined the chorus of criticism. He said: “I think if you look back at the last year, Gordon Brown has almost revealed himself to be the opposite of what we were told he was like: we were told he was strong and yet the “bottled” election showed that he is a weak and dithering prime minister; we were told that he was competent, and yet as the series of data losses have shown, he is presiding over a government that is, in so many ways, incompetent.”