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

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Plans to decriminalise non-payment of television licence fees would cost the BBC £500m according to estimates drawn up within the Corporation
people
News
people
Life & Style
The new low cost smartphone of Motorola, 'Motorola Moto G', is displayed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 13, 2013. The smartphone, with dimensions 65.9mm W x 129.9mm H x 6.0 - 11.6mm D is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with quad-core 1,2 GHz CPU, a 4.5-inch display and Android Operating System 4.3 and a suggested price of $ 179 USD.
techData assessing smartphones has revealed tens of millions of phones are at risk of being harvested
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as the troubled, melancholy Don Draper
tvAnd six other questions we hope Mad Men series seven will answer
Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?