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Despite a recent scandal among lawmakers, multiple government resignations, and dismal nationwide election results, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown survived calls for his resignation from members of his own party.
Speaking at a 90-minute private meeting of Labour Party lawmakers, Mr. Brown admitted, “I have my strengths and I have my weaknesses, I know I need to improve. There are some things I can do well, some things I do not so well. I’ve learnt that you’ve got to keep learning all the time” (AP, according to a text of the speech supplied by Mr. Brown’s office).
A handful of dissident lawmakers called on him to resign, but gained little support among fellow party members. “Rebels need 71 of Labour’s 350 lawmakers to offer backing to a challenger to Brown to trigger a leadership contest—a figure that appears out of their reach after only about six dissidents spoke against Brown at the meeting” (AP).
News and political analysts expect Mr. Brown will survive future calls to step down, remain in office, and likely lead his party in national elections, to be held by June 2010. Analysts project that, for the first time since 1997, Conservatives will return to power.
Several ministers have resigned in protest of Mr. Brown’s leadership. Opting to quit her position as Farming minister instead of pledging to support him against dissident party members, Jane Kennedy called for Mr. Brown to “make way for an alternative leader” (The Independent).
In an open letter to constituents, a former Labour minister stated, “Recent events have shown that Gordon Brown has not been able to manage relations within his Government. The person at the top has to forge a group of strong politicians into a united, coherent team to provide stable government. And that has, painfully, not happened” (ibid.).
The recent scandal in the British House of Commons involved lawmakers who made excessive expense claims—reimbursements for mortgages already paid off or lavish home furnishings—costing taxpayers. Public outrage led to the resignation of House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin—the first speaker forced out of office in 314 years. Additionally, more than a dozen government officials quit in less than a week.
Public anger also contributed to Labour losing all 34 county councils in nationwide elections and finishing with 15.3 percent of the vote for representatives to the European Parliament.