Labour suffering blow in local British elections

May 2nd, 2008 - 12:33 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
London (DPA) Britain’s ruling Labour Party was suffering big losses Friday as votes were counted in local elections in England and Wales. With results in from 98 of 159 local councils, Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s party had lost 144 seats and its majority on five councils, the BBC reported.

The Conservatives, in contrast, have picked up an additional 138 seats and six councils in Thursday’s elections, the BBC said.

By its own projections, the British television network said the Conservatives would take 44 percent of the vote and Labour would fall into third place with 24 percent, behind the Liberal Democrats with 25 percent.

Such a result would be the worst drubbing for Labour in 40 years and a setback to Brown, who has seen his popularity ratings drop along with his party’s.

Labour’s chief whip Geoff Hoon said, however, that the results did not represent a danger to Brown’s future after nearly a year as premier.

“There’s no crisis,” he told the BBC. “This isn’t something that’s going to affect the fundamental stability of the government.”

Conservative William Hague spoke to the BBC of “a big step forward”: “These are exceptional results and this could be the lowest Labour share of the vote in the modern history of local elections.”

Polls forecast a loss of up to 200 seats for Labour in the elections to choose 4,102 councillors.

A highly watched office up for grabs was London mayor as incumbent Ken Livingstone faces a strong challenge from Conservative Boris Johnson. A defeat in London would be seen as a serious blow to the Labour Party, and by implication, to Brown.

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