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Friday elections and Labour leadership crisis blog

6.15pm: Very bad results for the BNP


5.13pm: OMIGOD! Glenys Kinnock is new Minister for Europe.

5.13pm: Tory victory in North Tyneside confirmed.

5.12pm: Flint's resignation confirmed in middle of Brown's press conference:

Picture 48 5.00pm: Rumours that Caroline Flint is resigning.

4.58pm: Two more Tory gains from the LibDems in North Yorkshire (in Airedale & Whitby/Streonshalh).

4.42pm: Lord Adonis to be new Transport Secretary.

4.39pm Tony McNulty to leave government.  Another expenses-gate victim.

4.31pm: More misery for the LDs... Conservatives making big gains in Cornwall

4.28pm Andy Coulson and Stephen Gilbert holding meeting with Chloe Smith NOW. Fast work.

4.25pm Blairites now see James Purnell as their new hero, says Sam Coates

4.24pm Guido reacts to the political resurrection of Peter Hain

4.17pm Tories win control of Warwickshire

4.15pm By-election imminent in Norwich North after Labour MP Ian Gibson announces immediate resignation

3.54pm Funniest post of the day award goes to James Forsyth:

Picture 43 3.50pm: This is the FIRST government ever not to control a county council.

3.48pm: Andy Burnham is new Health Secretary.  Margaret Beckett leaving Government in huff apparently.


3.21pm: Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan MP reacts to Peter Hain's return: “I am very sorry to lose Paul Murphy as Welsh Secretary. He is a good man with whom I have had a constructive, cordial relationship. Peter Hain’s appointment is another sign of Labour looking to the past when what we need is a fresh start. Instead of looking forwards they are turning to the past. Peter Hain has hardly been a cheerleader for the Brown government, yet is more than willing to take a job off him.”


InDevon 3.06pm: Tories ONE SEAT away from winning the Red Rose County of Lancashire!

3.06pm: Liam Fox attacks musical chairs of Defence Secretary: “It’s very clear from the musical chairs at the top of Government that this is all about Labour’s political gain and not about the wellbeing of our Armed Forces or our national security. Four Defence Secretaries in four years is far from the stability we need in such a crucial department. The Armed Forces will be saddened by the departure of John Hutton, who they regarded as an interested and competent Defence Secretary. Yet again, our Armed Forces seem to be a long way down the Government’s list of priorities. Our troops have every right to feel let down by this Government, which shows such contempt for them.”

2.52pm: More misery for the Liberal Democrats.  They've lost two seats in Harrogate to the Conservatives in large swings.

Image0042.47pm: "Bookie Paddy Power believes Gordon Brown is toast – and are paying out on the Prime Minister leaving his post before the end of August. Paddy Power’s betting on when Gordon Brown would no longer be PM has gone into overdrive with Brown’s odds to be gone before the end of August repeatedly being cut in the last 24 hours from 5/4 to just 1/4. Whilst politicians and pundits are queuing up to suggest the PM’s time is nigh, the public have decided it’s all over already. They’re piling in like there’s no tomorrow and, for Gordon Brown’s leadership, its looking like there might not be. Punters stand to collect £120,000 in the early payout. Paddy Power said: “In political terms the Prime Minister is Brown Bread - it’s the only bet punters are interested in today so we’re running up the white flag and paying out. Now it only remains to be seen if Gordon Brown does the same.”"

2.44pm: Danny Finkelstein is running a very good rolling blog.

Harris2.38pm: Every Conservative's least favourite Liberal Democrat - Evan Harris - is seeing his Abingdon backyard turn blue in the council elections.

2.35pm: The FT Westminster blog has unearthed a juicy quote from 1992 from Sugar on Brown: "“I have noted with disgust the comments of a certain Mr Gordon Brown who has accused me of doing well out of the recession….I do not know who Mr Gordon Brown is. Excuse my ignorance, but I don’t. Whoever he is, he has not done is homework properly. The man doesn’t know what he is talking about….Labour offers no route out of recession.”

2.30pm: Liberal Democrats in retreat in Guildford constituency - which has a notional CON Parliamentary majority of 89 under new boundaries.  Liberal Democrats lose two county seats in central Guildford (Guildford South, Guildford South East), and with a large increase in the CON majority in the LD's target (Worplesdon).

2.13pm: Bob Ainsworth MP is new Defence Secretary.

2.03pm: The Guardian has the briefing that Labour MPs are speaking from.

1.56pm: Pete Hoskin: "Rumour on the Beeb that Caroline Flint will be made Health Secretary - the price for not following the lead of her fellow "Pugin Room plotter" Hazel Blears?"

1.55pm: Jim Knight likely to be new Defence Secretary according to Sky News

1.54pm: Labour lose most of their seats in Worcestershire

1.50pm: Tories make NINE gains in Derbyshire so far.

1.47pm: Tories making big gains in Lancashire.  The county's Labour leader has just lot their seat.

1.46pm: David Cameron off to Devon to celebrate the victory over the Liberal Democrats there.

Picture 381.11pm: Talking to Eric in his office.

1.08pm: Eleven gains in Devon for the Conservatives, ten from the LDs.  DEVON SET TO GO BLUE.

12.58pm: Tom Garrod, a nineteen year-old Conservative with cerebral palsy has won in Great Yarmouth.

12.51pm: Surrey is now a Labour-free zone.

12.32pm: Doncaster Mayoral final will be between English Democrats and an independent.  So much for a Labour stronghold!

12.30pm: Two reports from the field...

  • From Christopher Pincher, our Tamworth candidate, "Tamworth has counted and we won all six county seats from Labour in Tamworth borough. Labour now has no county councillors in the seat. We do not need to win any more county seats across Staffs to take control for first time since 1981. Labour and Brian Jenkins looked shell shocked."
  • From Charlie Elphicke: Tories won all four Canterbury seats. Labour beaten into fourth place in every seat, behind Greens.

12.24pm: First results from Derbyshire; Two Tory gains - one from Labour, one from the LibDems.

12.22pm: I've written for The Guardian: "Behind closed doors, Labour MPs hardly have a good word to say about Brown but they are afraid to strike – afraid to follow James Purnell's breaking of the ranks last night. Some key cabinet ministers are holding back for fear of a Johnson coronation and what that means for their own leadership hopes. The parliamentary Labour party has shown it can't run the country and it is now looking like it can't run a leadership coup."

12.21pm: Only one Labour councillor left on Hampshire County Council.

12.15pm: TORIES HAVE WON SOMERSET FROM THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS.  Eight gains.  It's the result people here at CCHQ are most pleased with so far.

12.14pm: ConHome has seized control of the Party Chairman's office:

Picture 36 12.05pm: Conservatives predicted to win all four Stafford seats.

12.02pm: John Denham is new Communities Secretary.

12.01pm: Sam Coates identifies five weaknesses of Brown.

Picture 3411.56am: Siobhan McDonagh MP tells the BBC that Cabinet ministers who are pledging loyalty to Brown are saying different things in private to her.  Qu'elle Surprise!

Picture 33 11.52am: Hutton insisting he isn't resigning because he wants Brown to go.


11.42am: Now five Tory gains in my birth county of Devon (four from LDs).

11.36am: Four Tory gains in Nuneaton.

Picture 3211.34am: BBC reporting that John Denham is new Health Secretary.

11.30am: Four Conservative gains in Barrow.


  • Three gains in Devon, two from LDs
  • Two gains in Somerset, one from county's Labour leader
  • Staffordshire looking extremely positive (including key marginals of Staff Moorlands and Stafford).

11.07am: The BNP is performing all to well in Hertfordshire.

10.49am: Harry Phibbs thinks Labour's losses in local government are set to be bigger than first thought: "I suspect when the scale of these results sinks in they could be of more importance than the departure of James Purnell in terms of the pressure on Gordon Brown to go."

10.27am: Reports that Hutton is leaving Cabinet. Interesting.  As James Forsyth reminds us: Hutton predicted that Brown would be a 'fing disaster as PM.  He was right on that one.  Hutton, Purnell and Blears were the leading Blairites.  Now all three are gone.

10.18am: ConHome launches the Staying or Going Meter:

StayingOrGoing We'll update the meter as the day goes on but at this time I think things have swung somewhat in Brown's favour since William Hague told Sky News that he had a 50/50 chance of surviving. First noone has followed Purnell and second Brown looks like he is going to be able to construct a serious Cabinet. Darling stays (Balls as Chancellor might have triggered the end) as does David Miliband. Alan Johnson becomes Home Secretary.  This is all good news for the Conservatives.  Brown limps on more wounded, his authority undermined and Labour even more disunited.

10.05am: Photo of the BBC News stage in Westminster:

Picture 30 9.12am: About to do News 24 and then an article for The Guardian. Will blog lightly until 11am-ish. Do check out Harry's local government posts, including the re-re-election of Hartlepool's monkey.

8.22am: Fraser Nelson is predicting a big day for the Balls-Cooper duo. Cooper may replace Purnell at DWP.

8.13am: Nick Robinson says reshuffle happening this morning to show Brown has a strong, loyal Cabinet. Downing Street said to be pleased that James Purnell's resignation has not triggered other attacks on the Prime Minister.

7.42am Labour MP Barry Sheerman tells News 24 that Downing Street is urging his constituency Labour Party to discipline him following his call on Brown to go.

7.37am: Alan Johnson MP issues statement which says that he continues to believe Gordon Brown is right man for the job but declines to criticise James Purnell.

Picture 29 7.36am: Interviewed on Sky News William Hague says he thinks it 50/50 whether Brown will survive.  He says there is more "venom" in Labour infighting than Tory infighting in 1990 when Margaret Thatcher was brought down.  Then the Tories were divided over policy.  Today Labour is divided on personal enmity.

7.22am: Geert Wilders whose Freedom Party has, according to exit polls, won 15/16% of the Dutch vote - likely to produce 4 MEPs - tells Today that he'll consider reapplying to enter Britain.  He tells his BBC interviewer that he learns that Jacqui Smith has resigned because of "porno videos" and hopes that this will mean his application will be viewed by a fresh pair of eyes... If the Dutch can have exit polls now, why can't we?

7.16am: Sky saying Yvette Cooper likely to receive big job in a reshuffle that will begin this morning.

7.10am: Professor John Curtice tells Radio 4 Today that early indications from local elections indicate that UKIP and the Greens will advance in the Euro Elections when results are announced on Sunday.

Former Tory MP Michael Brown jokes on Sky News that David Cameron should go to Downing Street with an oxygen supply and resuscitation mask in order to keep Gordon Brown's premiership alive. Iain Dale, on the same programme, jokes that the Labour leader the Tories really would like is Harriet Harman.

Tim Montgomerie


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