Britan’s Labour Party sees sharp drop in European vote

June 8th, 2009 - 6:26 am ICT by IANS  

Gordon Brown London, June 8 (DPA) Britain’s ruling Labour Party appeared Sunday to be heading for a mauling in the elections for the European Parliament as first results showed a sharp fall in support compared with 2004.
Results in the North-East region, a Labour stronghold, were down by nine percent, compared with 2004. It was the first of 12 regions where the counting of votes was completed.

While the Labour Party won the most votes in the North-East of England at the European Elections, its 25-percent share of the vote in the region was “well down” on 2004.

If a similar decline in votes is repeated in the remaining 11 voting regions, it would add to pressure on Gordon Brown who has vowed to stay in office despite calls to go.

Turnout, which like the results is given region by region, was around 30 percent, according to initial indications.

Leading Labour politicians have conceded that the ruling party is expecting a drubbing following the scandal over the abuse of parliamentary expenses.

Labour expects “truly awful” results in European Parliament, cabinet minister Peter Hain said.

He predicted a “terrible night” for Labour as votes were being counted for Britain’s 72 seats in the European Parliament.

He said voters would “punish all of us” for the recent scandal over the abuse of parliamentary expenses.

“This is an expenses election,” said Hain about the European poll.

Labour won 23 percent of the vote in the European elections in 2004.

If Sunday night’s result, as expected, is below that figure, it would be worst-ever for the British Labour Party.

Meanwhile, Britain’s fervently anti-European UK Independent Party (UKIP) said Sunday it was confident of winning more votes than the ruling Labour Party in the elections for the European Parliament.

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