Labour MPs in firing line

PUBLISHED: 11:25 03 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:18 05 July 2010

GORDON Brown was last night handed a six month ultimatum to revive the government's fortunes amid fears that three of East Anglia's Labour MPs could be swept away by a Tory tide in the next general election.

GORDON Brown was last night handed a six month ultimatum to revive the government's fortunes amid fears that three of East Anglia's Labour MPs could be swept away by a Tory tide in the next general election.

The Tory local election triumph was last night capped by Boris Johnson winning the race to be London Mayor.

And following the disastrous polling night, which saw the Tories…gain more than 250 council seats and a 44pc share of the vote one Brown supporter called for him to get a grip or face the threat of a leadership challenge during the party conference season in the autumn.

Labour were in third place behind the Liberal Democrats with only 24pc of the votes.

In Yarmouth the Tories increased their grip on the council taking two seats off Labour including their group leader Trevor Wainwright, one of the architects of controversial plans for a new 'Yartoft' council merging Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

The Greens stole the show in Norwich overtaking the Lib Dems to become the official opposition at City Hall - the first Green group to do so in the country. And it was a good night for the Tories who picked up two seats.

But Labour held its ground and is set to stay in control after remaining the largest group.

And while the Tories retained control in Waveney it was a case of how you were as the majority over Labour remained unchanged -with sitting MP Bob Blizzard insisting his party has survived the worst of the storm.

Both the Tories and the Greens are now gunning for Labour at the next elections and the Tory surge, will concentrate the minds of sitting MPs in each of those areas Ian Gibson, Tony Wright and Bob Blizzard.

John Greenaway, lecturer in politics at UEA, said the Tories were in a strong position where they were the main challengers to Labour, but ironically the Greens' success in Norwich could help sitting MP Charles Clarke.

“The Conservatives have become stronger throughout Norfolk,” he said. “The possibilities are that the Conservatives could win Yarmouth and most other rural seats, apart from North Norfolk. Charles Clarke's position will be helped by the Lib Dems doing so badly and the Greens on the rise, you will have a divided opposition with two or three parties claiming they are the main challengers.”

Dr Gibson said the Prime Minister needed to rediscover core 'Labour values'.

“He is going to have to make a move, I still have every confidence in him, but he has got to get weaving before the party conference - he has about six months to get it all tied up and provide direction,” he said. “Things are brewing behind the scenes. I have always been a Gordon Brown support and I would like to seem him do well. But even I am starting to lose faith in him and he really needs to do something positive to regain control.”

Yarmouth's Tony Wright said: “I am sure there will questions asked, but we are where we are and I'm sure Gordon will be leading the Labour Party into the next General Election. He is a strong enough person to say he has made mistakes and will put them right.

While Mr Blizzard called for calm.

“We need to hold our nerve and get on with the job of governing,” he said. “I think Waveney bucked the national trend - across the country Labour lost ground but we stayed exactly where we are,” he added.

Norwich South MP Charles Clarke, widely seen as a potential challenger to the Prime Minister said he did not want to see a change in leadership but stressed Mr Brown needed to take on board the lessons learned from the elections.

“It's been a bad night for Labour nationally and the party has to think what steps it has to take,” he said. “But it certainly wasn't disastrous for us in Norwich - it was a good night for the Greens and the Conservatives and an appalling night for the Lib Dems.

“The challenge for me is that I will be fighting for every vote and I still believe that vote for Labour represents the best for Norwich.

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