Monday, 30 June 2008

One in the eye for Gordon!

Disaster in Henley as just 1066 voters stay Labour

Serious doubts about Gordon Brown’s leadership must now be beginning to assail the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Before the Henley bye-election, there was some speculation that Labour might lose their deposit. Or they might even slip into fourth place. Henley was never going to be an easy ride for them.

On the night, the result was worse even than their worst nightmares. Labour came fifth! Behind the Green Party. Behind the BNP.

A mere 220 votes saved them from the ultimate ignominy of sixth place, trailing UKIP.

The question now must be not whether – but when the first challenge to Gordon Brown’s leadership arrives – and in what form. A stalking horse challenge at the annual conference in September is a distinct possibility. But the scale of defeat, following on from disastrous local government results and the loss of Crewe and Nantwich, make it not impossible that the “men in suits” will be calling even sooner.

In fact, insiders suggest, the man most likely to call could be young David Milliband. At odds of 9/4, David Milliband is also reckoned to be the favourite to succeed, just pipping John Denham and Alan Milburn at the post.

Is all doom and gloom? A YouGov poll in today’s Telegraph provides the tiniest crumb of comfort, as it suggests the Tory lead over Labour may have fallen to a “mere 18%”. However, that, too, must be a measure of the depths to which Labour have sunk: when trailing 18% in the polls can be considered to be an improvement.

Sadly, though, YouGov offer no further comfort to Gordon Brown. 61% of those polled now say that he is a liability – and 49% say he is doing a worse job than Tony Blair.

The result in full was:
• John Howell (Conservative): 19,796 (+3.2%)
• Stephen Kearney (Liberal Democrat): 9,680 (+1.7%)
• Mark Stevenson (Green Party): 1,321
• Timothy Rait (British National Party): 1,243
• Richard McKenzie (Labour): 1,066
• Chris Adams (UK Independence Party): 843
• Bananaman Owen (Official Monster Raving Loony Party): 242
• Derek Allpass (English Democrats Party): 157
• Amanda Harrington (Independent Candidate): 128
• Dick Rodgers (Common Good): 121
• Louise Cole (Independent Candidate): 91
• Harry Bear (Fur Play Party): 73

Turnout was 34,915 (50.5%).

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