Brown loses a friend – and faces another daunting Scottish by-election
Gordon Brown faces a daunting by-election in his own political backyard following the death yesterday of a Labour MP.
John MacDougall, the 60-year-old MP for Glenrothes in Fife, died after a two-year battle against the asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma.
The Prime Minister, who visited Mr MacDougall in hospital earlier this week, led the tributes to a "good personal friend". Mr MacDougall's death leaves Labour facing a difficult by-election this autumn in the constituency next door to Mr Brown's Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath seat.
Following disastrous poll results in Glasgow East, and Crewe and Nantwich, another defeat in a previous Labour stronghold would intensify efforts to remove Mr Brown from No 10.
At the last election, Mr MacDougall held Glenrothes with 52 per cent of the vote and a 10,664 majority over the Scottish National Party, which would need a swing of 14.6 per cent to capture the seat. The SNP secured a 22 per cent swing to win Glasgow East three weeks ago.
Labour is expected to delay the by-election until late October or even November to enable its chosen candidate to become established in the area. But, given the collapse of the party's popularity in Scotland, Labour knows it faces an uphill struggle to hold on to Glenrothes. The poll will inevitably be viewed as a referendum on the embattled Prime Minister. He will attempt to shore up his position by setting out an economic recovery package next month and in his speech to the party conference in Manchester.
The weakness of Labour support in Fife was underlined two years ago when the Liberal Democrats captured Dunfermline and West Fife, also a previously safe seat, with a swing of 16 per cent.
Mr MacDougall was a former boiler-maker who became a union shop steward and long-serving member of Fife Council. He was elected to Parliament as an MP for Central Fife in 2001, which became Glenrothes when the boundaries of Scotland's parliamentary constituencies were redrawn four years later.
Mr MacDougall, who leaves a wife and two adult children, was diagnosed with mesothelioma two years ago and had a lung removed in an attempt to treat the condition. As his illness worsened, he was rarely seen at Westminister, but he was summoned from his sickbed in June to vote in favour of plans to detain terror suspects for up to 42 days. It was the first time he had voted in a Commons division for more than six months.
The Prime Minister said last night: "John MacDougall gave more than 30 years of distinguished public service to Fife – as a councillor, leader of the Fife Council, convener of Fife Council and then MP for Central Fife. He will be remembered as a true servant of the people.
"A very popular, diligent local MP, he served Fife with great distinction in all the roles he played. Over three decades, he has been a good personal friend of mine and I visited him on Monday."
Angus Robertson, the SNP leader at Westminster, said: "We may have been on opposite sides in the Commons, but John carried the respect of people right across the chamber and was passionate for the issues he believed in and the welfare of his constituents, which he cared about deeply. He will be much missed."
The former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, MP for the neighbouring North-East Fife constituency, said: "[John's] courageous fight against illness in recent times meant that Parliament was denied his shrewd interventions on so many issues."
2005 result in Glenrothes
J MacDougall (Lab) 19,395 (51.9 %)
J Beare (SNP) 8,731 (23.4%)
E Riches (Lib Dem) 4,728 (12.7%)
B Don (Con) 2,651 (7.1 %)
G Rodger (Pensioners) 716 (1.9 %)
M Balfour (Scot Soc) 705 (1.9 %)
P Smith (UKIP) 440 (1.2%)
Labour majority 10,664
The magicians using online collaboration to push boundaries
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Jennifer Lawrence: 'It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV'
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Ian Watkins: Police forces probed over earlier allegations as paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences
DNA from a 50,000 year old toe shows Neanderthals were highly inbred
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Ethan Couch: Texas quadruple murderer – or a victim of ‘affluenza’?
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£79000 - £93000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Commercial Property Associat...
£25000 - £32000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Business Analyst - Banking...
£21999 - £27001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have exten...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...