Local Labour backing for Brown

LABOUR Party members in the region have given their backing to Gordon Brown despite mounting pressure against the beleaguered Prime Minister.

Anthony Bond

LABOUR Party members in the region have given their backing to Gordon Brown despite mounting pressure against the beleaguered Prime Minister.

Moves to force Mr Brown from office have gathered pace this weekend with a number of Labour MPs criticising his performance and demanding he face a leadership contest this autumn.

Two MPs were sacked from their positions in Government for speaking out following a difficult few months for the Prime Minister.

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Despite this, Mr Brown, who spent part of his summer holiday near Southwold, can rely on support from Labour figures in Suffolk and Essex.

Ipswich's Labour MP Chris Mole said: “I think it is pointless calling for a contest when there is no clear indication that there is another candidate who would stand and want to fight an election to replace Gordon Brown.

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“I do not think that those who have been in the media this weekend are being constructive or helpful and are best to keep their thoughts to themselves for the time being.

“I have no doubt that Gordon Brown in the right person to be Prime Minister at this time.”

Julian Swainson, leader of the Suffolk County Council Labour group, said: “There is no reason for a change of leader at the moment and I do not forsee there being such a need.”

Ivan Henderson, former Harwich MP and prospective parliamentary candidate for the Clacton seat, said “Gordon Brown is the only one with the experience and the know-how to get through these troubled times - not just for the country but the party as well.

“I worked alongside him in the Treasury and on the campaign team in 2001 and there is not a better bloke to turn the party round and give a good contest to the Tories when it comes.”

Paul Kirkman, leader of the Labour group on Essex County Council, said: “The leader of the party was elected a very short time ago and I do not see why anybody who was sane would want to reopen that - it is perfectly ridiculous.”

Mick Jefferys,vice-chairman of the West Suffolk Constituency Party, said: “I don't think changing a leader would make any significant difference at all. In the end, what Gordon Brown has to do is to salvage this situation and I think that is possible.”

Mr Brown's most senior allies rallied behind him yesterdayand called for unity to improve the party's prospects.

This included Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who is seen as a potential successor to Mr Brown.

He said: “I think there's a recognition from the top of the party down, from Gordon down, that these are very, very challenging times for the Labour Party.”

It would require 71 MPs to nominate a challenger to trigger a leadership election.

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