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Margaret Beckett: Gordon Brown must change tack PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 26 May 2008

Times Online

Former foreign secretary Margaret Beckett moved to steady Labour nerves this morning amid growing public and private pressure for Gordon Brown to quit after the Crewe by-election “catastrophe” left ministers and Labour MPs convinced that they could not win with him at the helm.

She told the BBCs Today programme Gordon Brown could still lead Labour to a fourth term in office but would first need to show voters he had changed direction.

“There is absolutely nothing to say that provided we listen to the electorate, and learn from their clear desire to see a change of course, there’s nothing whatsoever to say the result of the next general election is set,” she said.

In a separate statement, she said: “It is clear that people in Crewe and Nantwich, just like voters in the local elections three weeks ago, are concerned about the economy and want to send the Government a message just as they have sent previous governments warning shots in the past.
“But I know that the right person to lead the country at this time of economic uncertainty is the man who led our economy through 10 years of economic growth, protecting us against previous global recessions. That person is Gordon Brown.

“Of course (this) was a bad result for the Labour Party but we have the right ideas and the right leader to continue to deliver for Britain.”

Later today the senior Labour peer Lord Desai added to the prime minister’s worries by saying the party’s "only hope" of winning the next election was if Gordon Brown "changed” and “ improved".

The senior economist said: "I know he has difficulty changing his style, he's set in his ways, but we can recover because, policy-wise, Gordon Brown still has good ideas.

"Gordon Brown is our only leader and we have to either win with him or lose with him."

But the peer said if Mr Brown did not respond to criticism, Justice Secretary Jack Straw should take his place.

"Either we require a changed, improved Gordon Brown to lead us, and we still hope for that, or somebody has to say, 'Please for the sake of the party that you love, move over', but I don't think it's going to happen."

Last night Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, was being earmarked by senior backbenchers as the figure to tell Mr Brown that they had lost confidence in him and that he should step aside unless there was a swift improvement in Labour’s fortunes.

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