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We can recover from electoral disaster, Labour MPs insist

Defiantly upbeat: Jonathan Shaw (left) and Dr Steve Ladyman
Defiantly upbeat: Jonathan Shaw (left) and Dr Steve Ladyman

Kent 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 Thather's government.

~ Blue is the colour as Tories sweep the board >>>

Mr Shaw insisted the party could weather the downturn in support. "If we can steer a course through the difficult economic conditions caused by the credit crunch, then peoples' faith will be restored. Most people do understand that our economy is impacted much more quickly by international events."

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

"When things get difficult, people do get anxious. I have worked for Gordon Brown and know he can tackle difficult issues, take the right decisions and show leadership," he said.

Former transport minister and Thanet South Labour MP Dr Steve Ladyman was defiantly upbeat, forecasting that voters would return to the Labour fold in time.

He said: "It was a pretty absymal night but these are the circumstances when a government proves its mettle. In a year, we will look back on this and Labour will be able to say that the credit crunch has been dealt with and that we are the only country around not to be going into recession.

"We have and are listening and we have got the experience to deal with difficult times."

He did not accept that Labour’s fortunes would be reversed by ditching Gordon Brown but accepted he lacked Tony Blair’s populist touch.

"He [Brown] is the best man for the job. I was a great supporter of Tony Blair...Gordon is a little slower to pick up when people are saying there are problems and maybe a little too academic in his response to things."

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