Brown receives backing of senior Scottish figures

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Indy Politics

Embattled Prime Minister Gordon Brown was today backed by senior Scottish Labour figures - despite the party's European election defeat to the SNP north of the border.

Mr Brown remains the "right man for the job", according to Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy and Labour leader in Scotland Iain Gray.

The result was hailed as "historic" by Nationalist leader Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, after his party gained 29.1 per cent of the Euro vote, compared with Labour's 20.8 per cent.

Both parties retained two Euro seats, with the Tories and Liberal Democrats taking one seat apiece in Scotland.

Mr Murphy said he believed Mr Brown had the qualities needed to lead the country.

He added: "I'm confident that Gordon will show he's the right man for the job and I'm certain he is.

"People look at it and think does Gordon have the right substance and the right values, the right ideas to get us through this?

"Most Labour politicians think he does, the vast majority of Labour MPs think he does, the vast majority of MSPs think he does."

In East Renfrewshire, the area represented at Westminster by Mr Murphy, Labour came third behind the Tories and the second-placed SNP.

But he put the party's poor showing overall down to a "massive abstention" by Labour voters annoyed over expenses and internal party wrangling.

"Divided parties get punished by voters," he said in Edinburgh this afternoon.

Mr Gray said: "If you ask people on the doorsteps, they still have confidence in Gordon Brown to sort out the economy."

It is the first time the SNP has topped the poll in a European election in Scotland and comes two years after the Nationalists secured power in the Scottish Parliament.

If repeated at a general election, it would see the SNP take 27 seats in the Commons.

"The Westminster analysis shows how historic this result is for the SNP," Mr Salmond said.

"We have also won with a much greater margin of victory than even the Holyrood win two years ago."

He added: "Labour MPs must now be quaking in their boots at the prospect of the SNP winning across their former heartlands."

The results in Scotland also saw the SNP win in 22 of the 32 council areas, while the Tories won in four and the Lib Dems and Labour in three each.

The remainder of the votes in Scotland saw the Tories take 16.8 per cent, the Liberal Democrats achieve 11.5 per cent, the Greens 7.3 per cent, and the UK Independence Party (Ukip) 5.2 per cent.

The BNP trailed on 2.5 per cent.

Tory leader Annabel Goldie said: "All over Scotland we are challenging for seats, and all over Scotland people are realising that the only way of getting rid of this tired and failing Labour Government is to vote for the Conservatives.

"A vote for any other party at Westminster could allow Labour in by the back door."

Newly elected Scottish Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon said: "This Labour Government led by a Scottish Chancellor and Scottish Prime Minister has clearly lost the confidence of the Scottish people."