It was a murderous on Friday night for Labour Party with Prime Minister Gordon Brown suffering a “bloody nose” in his first local elections as party leader.Labour put in its worst electoral performance in the last 40 years and came in third after the Tories and Liberal Democrats in vote percentage.
Researchers predicted early morning that Labour won 24 per cent of votes cast in England and Wales, behind the Tories at 44 per cent and Lib Dems at 25 per cent.
After results of 138 out of 159 total authorities in England and Wales were announced, Conservatives had gained 12 councils, giving them control in 60, Lib Dems gained one to give them control over 11councils, while Labour lost nine leaving them with 15 councils. By noon, it was also clear that Labour had lost over 250 seats; with the Tories gaining 221 and Lib Dems 30.
This was a terrible loss for Labour, said analysts who believed that Brown paid the price for the economic gloom and his decision to abolish the 10p lower rate of income tax.
Tory leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg immediately set on their tour of triumph, criss-crossing the country. Cameron said the outcome showed that Conservatives were now in “contention in the country”. Clegg said the results clearly indicated that his party had gained momentum and was now moving ahead.
With hardly anything to celebrate Brown decided to go about “business as usual” and remained at Downing Street. He conceded it had been a “bad” and “disappointing” (Friday) night for Labour, but he would “learn and lead” and the party.
The bravado notwithstanding, he would have in his mind the fact that the debacle for Labour was similar to that of the Conservative Party under John Major, just two years after which Tories were brutally beaten in the 1997 general election.