Furious Britons Give Brown and Labour Worst Electoral Pummeling in Forty Years

By Hilary White in England

Gordon Brown WESTMINSTER, UK, May 2, 2008 ( - In today’s local council elections around the country, British voters delivered a devastating blow to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the ruling Labour party, a signal that many believe may translate into a Tory win, even a majority, in the next general election. Experts say that the Labour party has not received such an electoral pummeling in forty years and estimate that more than 100 Labour MPs will now be fighting to keep their seats at the next election.

  Elections were held in 137 English local council authorities in England and in all 22 Welsh councils giving a total of 4,023 seats up for election. The BBC reported at six pm. GMT that Labour had won only 24 per cent of votes putting them third behind the Conservatives with 44 per cent and Liberal Democrats with 25 per cent. Labour has lost 331 council seats and control of nine councils with the Tories picking up 12 councils and 256 seats.

  The May 1st elections had long been anticipated as the first electoral test of Gordon Brown’s premiership since he took power without an electoral mandate when Tony Blair left office last year. Local councils guide the general political thrust of the country with councils responsible for a wide array of day to day services from garbage collection to adoptions and family services. The local elections are looked upon as a signal to the central government at Westminster and are used in the political trade to calculate vote shares in some seats in the House of Commons in a general election.

  Brown, who is rumored to have lately developed the habit of throwing mobile phones against walls, is now expected to attempt to hold on to his mandate until the last possible moment when in 2010 he will be obliged by law to call an election. But one senior Labour MP, Ian Gibson, has warned that Brown has six months to turn things around or face a possible leadership challenge before the party’s conference this autumn.

  Brown told media that he was "disappointed" at the result and that it had been a "bad night".

"My job is to listen and to lead," Brown said. He blamed "difficult economic circumstances" for Labour’s losses, the worst the party has seen in forty years, and claimed that the party would "listen" and make changes.

"I think people want to be assured, and indeed people are questioning and want to be assured, that the government will steer them through these difficult times."

  But Labour’s drubbing is widely considered, even in senior Labour party circles, to be a massive backlash from voters furious with the party’s policies, not just under Brown, but over the last decade of their rule under Tony Blair. So angry are Britain’s voters with Labour that one analyst in the Guardian noted that in some ridings they were specifically voting for any candidate, regardless of party, likely to defeat the Labour candidate. 

  Especially alienated is the party’s traditional constituency of the white middle and working class, who have grown increasingly exasperated with Britain’s heavy taxation, rising cost of living, the growth of the "surveillance state", and the increasingly detailed and arbitrary regulation of daily life.

  Since coming to power in 1997, analysts, both in favour and against, agree that the "New" Labour party under Blair has utterly transformed British society.

  Stories abound in the press of a Britain labouring under the rule of an obsessive "nanny state" that controls and regulates every minute detail of life. While council tax rises, some councils have reduced the number of garbage collections to once in a fortnight and installed microchips in wheelie bins and hired "rubbish police" to ensure that citizens are not throwing away too much or the wrong kind of trash; violators can be fined or face charges.

  Britain’s millions of close circuit TV cameras monitor citizens everywhere, even in the smallest country villages. The various agencies of the state, particularly the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), have banned or attempted to ban everything from smoking in pubs to children playing with conkers to the bagpipes. 

"Anti-discrimination" laws put in place by Labour have seen children and students, journalists, shop keepers and housewives investigated and interviewed by police for possible "hate crimes" for suggesting that immigrants ought to learn English or that homosexual partners should not be allowed to adopt children, or even for selling "politically incorrect" toys in their shops.

  At the same time, violent crime, so rare in Britain until the 1970’s that English policemen were famed for being unarmed, has risen to crisis proportions in the last ten years and teenage sexual activity has risen to put Britain at the head of the teen pregnancy, abortion and sexually transmitted disease list for Europe. 

  Labour’s constitutional compromises with the European Union have culminated in most of Britain’s laws being made not at Westminster by British parliamentarians, but from the European Parliament in Brussels and various unelected EU regulatory agencies.

  As the news slowly leaked out in recent months that over 70 per cent of British legislation now comes from Europe, a movement grew to hold Gordon Brown to the Labour party’s promise of a referendum on the new European constitution, now called the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty is understood to give even more legislative powers over to Brussels.

  This winter, Brown’s determination to refuse a referendum grew in proportion to the demand that the people should have a say. In the end, a series of parliamentary tricks and party intimidation pushed the Lisbon Treaty ratification bill through the House of Commons without a referendum.

  Baroness P.D. James, the novelist and life member of the House of Lords who spent thirty years in various departments of the civil service, told an audience at Westminster yesterday that British society had become "more fractured than I in my long life have ever known it."

  In a speech on policing in the 21st century, Baroness James described a ghettoized Britain where citizens live in isolated communities in fear of violating a "cult of political correctness" with little loyalty to the rest of the country.

  Read related coverage:

"Brown’s Bottled It": the Fall of Labour under Gordon Brown

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