Page last updated at 00:06 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 01:06 UK

Blears survives confidence motion

Hazel Blears: "I'm very very grateful to party members"

Former Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has survived an attempt to force her deselection at a meeting of her constituency party in Salford.

Some party members criticised her for quitting the government on the eve of local elections this month and undermining the chances of candidates.

Her expenses claims have also come under intense scrutiny.

Ms Blears told the BBC she was "very, very grateful" that Labour party members had "rallied behind" her.

A group of about 30 protesters gathered outside Salford Civic Centre with placards calling for her to go.

Some of the protesters chanted "Hazel out, Hazel out". Four police officers watched the demonstration.

Speaking after the vote, organiser Stephen Kingston, 50, said the campaign to remove Ms Blears would continue.

"The reaction is that it shows the Labour party in Salford is completely and absolutely out of touch with their own voters," he said.

"Labour is supposed to be the party of the working class, so why aren't they listening to the working class in Salford?"

A few weeks do not wipe out 30 years in local and national politics
Hazel Blears


John Cullen, the constituency party chairman, told the BBC what had happened during the meeting.

"There was a full, frank, open, honest and comradely debate of no confidence in Hazel as candidate for the next general election," he said.

"When the vote was taken the motion was substantially defeated and so we move on from here."

Mr Cullen said Ms Blears had "the fight and the spirit" to carry on, but she would also have to be "contrite" about what had happened.

Ms Blears told the BBC the meeting had been "one of the most sensible discussions" she had had about the expenses row.

"I am at a loss sometimes to know how I got to this place, but what I've had tonight is the first chance to explain properly to my party members," she said.

"They've not only accepted my explanation, they've rallied behind me.

"I also heard tonight from party members that events of a few weeks do not wipe out 30 years of a record in local and national politics, fighting and being a champion for some of the poorest people in our country."

'Chance to rebuild'

Ms Blears said she "bitterly regretted" the timing of her resignation and earlier criticism of Gordon Brown's performance.

Steve Kingston said Hazel Blears had little local support

She said she had been "incandescently angry" about the situation and had felt she was being "hounded out" of her job.

But she added: "Now I've got a chance to rebuild and reinvigorate my politics a little bit about reconnecting with the people."

Despite the calls for her to step down as an MP at the next election, Ms Blears had been expected to survive the vote.

About 100 people had been expected to attend the meeting, but only some of them - delegates from the wards and unions - were able to vote.

Thirty-three opposed the no confidence motion and 12 voted in favour of it. One voter abstained.

She repaid £13,000 after it emerged she had not paid capital gains tax on the sale of a property.

Although her actions were within the rules, they were described as "totally unacceptable" by the prime minister.

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