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Price paid for failing to listen to voters

MP for Rainham and Gillingham, Paul Clark
MP for Rainham and Gillingham, Paul Clark

Medway Labour MPs insist the party can recover from its worst electoral showing since the 1960s but admit they have paid a price for failing to listen to voters’ concerns.

Junior minister Jonathan Shaw, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said it was vital the government listened more closely to those concerned by the faltering economy.

He said: “We have to understand better the concerns people have around all the issues and present our policies in a way that makes people feel we are responding to their concerns.

“Voters have clearly spoken in these elections. To say we have been effective in getting our message across would obviously not be accurate.”

The election results in Kent mean the entire county is now under Conservative control for the first time since the heyday of Margaret Thatcher’s government.

Mr Shaw insisted the party could weather the downturn in support. He said: “If we can steer a course through the difficult economic conditions caused by the credit crunch, then people’s faith will be restored.

“Most people do understand that our economy is affected much more quickly by international events.”

He rejected the suggestion a change in leader was needed, amid speculation Mr Brown’s position could be under threat from disaffected backbenchers.

He added: “When things get difficult, people do get anxious. I know Gordon Brown can tackle difficult issues, take the right decisions and show leadership.”

MP for Rainham and Gillingham Paul Clark was in London on Thursday encouraging people to vote.

He said: “Any government that does not take note of what has happened would be very silly and Gordon Brown has already made that clear. As a government we have to be listening to people’s concerns and redoubling our efforts.”

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