Open season (again) on shifty one-eyed Jocks

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Open season (again) on shifty one-eyed Jocks

Postby flipflop » Sat Jul 25, 2009 6:51 am

Brown Backlash After Young Tory's Victory

6:29am UK, Saturday July 25, 2009

Gordon Brown is facing a backlash from his own backbenchers following Labour's heavy defeat to 27-year-old Tory Chloe Smith in the Norwich North by-election.

Writing in the Independent, former Cabinet minister Charles Clarke said Gordon Brown was responsible for Labour's dismal showing because of his "incompetent and unjust" handling of the expenses row.

The former Home Secretary accused both Mr Brown and Tory leader David Cameron of abandoning "fairness" and "denigrating" their own MPs.

"It was this arbitrary approach which led directly to the by-election as the Prime Minister vilified Ian Gibson, but not on any fair basis," he said.

Meanwhile, Leading Labour MP Barry Sheerman, a usually loyal supporter of the government, is reported to have called the result "self-inflicted" and the former leadership contender John McDonnell called it "a shocking result for Labour".

Labour had been widely expected to lose the Norwich seat, vacated after MP Ian Gibson was barred from standing for Labour again over his second home expense claims, but the size of the defeat could prompt fresh discontent over Brown's leadership.

The Prime Minister admitted it was "clearly a disappointing result" but said voters were disaffected with all main parties in the wake of the expenses furore.

"I don't think any party can take a great deal of cheer from this," he said.

"The Conservative vote went down, the Liberal vote went down, only the fringe parties saw their votes going up."

Tory candidate Chloe Smith overturned Mr Gibson's 5,000-plus Labour majority to win the seat by 7,348 votes, becoming the youngest MP in the Commons.

She secured a swing of 16.4% and more than twice as many votes as Labour rival Chris Ostrowski, who held on to second place ahead of the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

Mr Cameron declared the result a victory for honesty in the face of Labour "lies".

The Conservative leader accused Labour of running an "utterly despicable" campaign and said that the outcome had shown voters had "had enough of Gordon Brown's misleading claims".

Elsewhere, Labour backbencher Andrew MacKinlay, an MP since 1992, announced he was joining those stepping down at the next general election, as he was fed up with colleagues following the party line rather than their own consciences.

"I believe it's the role of backbenchers to probe and criticise," he told the Daily Mail newspaper.
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