Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Holds Key to Survival of Labour; LABOUR IN DANGER? If Party Loses Heartlands, It Faces Struggle

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Holds Key to Survival of Labour; LABOUR IN DANGER? If Party Loses Heartlands, It Faces Struggle

Article excerpt

Byline: William Green Political Editor

GORDON Brown could lose seats in his North East strongholds and face defeat at the next general election, a new analysis by The Journal reveals today.

If the party's disastrous showing in last week's local polls is repeated during a national vote, Labour's grip on the region could be loosened at a general election.

By adding the latest opinion poll figures to the equation, the signs are that Labour would shed votes in its heartlands, enough to help oust it from government.

Last night a YouGov survey for a national tabloid newspaper put the Tories ahead of Labour by 26%, while Labour's support fell to its the lowest on record at just 23%. David Cameron's Opposition, fresh from success at the ballot box last week, secured the support of almost half of voters (49%).

In the North East, Labour currently holds 28 Parliamentary constituencies, leaving the Conservatives with one MP - Peter Atkinson in Hexham - and Liberal Democrats also with one, Alan Beith in Berwick.

After last week's council elections, the Liberal Democrats are optimistic about winning the Newcastle North and East seats, which would oust regional minister Nick Brown, and in Durham and even south east Northumberland.

The Conservatives believe they could win Tynemouth and the new seat of Sunderland Central.

Their confidence comes after Labour lost control in Northumberland, shedding 18 of 35 seats, and the Liberal Democrats became the biggest party on the new unitary county council.

In Newcastle, the Liberal Democrat administration strengthened its hold by taking seats from Labour. Labour still runs Gateshead but its dominance in Durham was cut back after it was left with a smaller than expected majority on the county's new unitary authority.

Conservatives took control of North Tyneside Council and increased their councillors in Sunderland, but have no seats in Newcastle or Gateshead.

Electoral expert John Curtice of Strathclyde University, analysing the results exclusively for The Journal, said the Tory share of the local election vote rose by 4% to 44% in a situation largely repeated across the county. …

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