Labour's loss in Scotland casts shadow over PM-in-waiting Brown
May 5, 2007 - 5:01:07 PM
London, May 5 - The Labour party finds itself in a piquant situation - Chancellor Gordon Brown, a Scot, is poised to take over from Tony Blair as the next prime minister, but the party has just lost its 50-year domination of Scotland politics.
In a knife-edge result, the Scottish National Party - won 47 seats while Labour won 46. The SNP is a party committed to independence, and casts a dark shadow over Brown taking over as the next prime minister. The narrow results are likely to lead to horse-trading in Scotland.
Political observers said that the SNP, in power in Scotland, could provoke huge tensions between the government and Edinburgh parliament, and demands from English voters to allow Scotland to break away.
SNP leader Alex Salmond claimed he had the 'moral authority' to govern and that the Labour did not. He said: 'Scotland has changed for good and for ever. Labour will never again be able to assume a divine right to rule Scotland'.
Salmond is expected to try and reach agreement on a 'progressive coalition' with another party but if he fails, he could seek to govern as a minority administration. The Labour could try to cling on to power by striking a deal with the Liberal Democrats to keep the SNP out.
In its traditional heartland in Wales, Labour's vote declined to 32 percent, its lowest level since 1918. It remains the largest party in the Welsh Assembly but will need the support of another party to run it. The Labour is expected to hold coalition talks with the Liberal Democrats next week.
After Thursday's elections to Scottish parliament, Welsh Assembly and local councils in England, the new electoral map showed that the Labour had been completely wiped out in 89 local authority areas, many of them in the south of England.
Conservative leader David Cameron claimed that his party's gains were a real breakthrough. He said: 'We are now the party of the whole country, winning in every part of the country, winning against Labour, winning against the Liberal Democrats.'
The Conservatives gained more than 850 seats in England. After results were announced for 309 of the 312 councils, the Conservatives had taken control of 38 more councils than it had earlier. Labour was down by 485 councillors, losing control of eight authorities.
Blair said the results were 'dreadful' for the Liberal Democrats and claimed that the Conservatives had not made the breakthrough they had sought. 'Everyone said we were going to get hammered, it was going to be a rout, but in fact it's not turned out like that,' he told reporters.
'You always take a hit in the midterm but these results provide a perfectly good springboard to go on and win the next general election,' he added.
Brown insisted that Labour had fought back in Scotland after being earlier written off. He added: 'To all those who came back to Labour and to everyone throughout Britain my resolve is that we, the Labour Party, will listen and we will learn as we continue to work for and serve the people of Britain.'
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