Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Saturday, 13 September 2008 15:55 UK

Seven MPs in Labour contest call

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown has been urged to come up with new ideas

Gordon Brown is facing increasing pressure from within Labour ranks for a leadership election.

Five Labour MPs - Fiona Mactaggart, Siobhain McDonagh, Joan Ryan, George Howarth and Janet Anderson - want leadership nomination forms sent out.

And fellow MPs Graham Stringer and Gordon Prentice have publicly called for a leadership contest.

Ms Ryan has now been sacked as vice chair of the party, as well as being removed as Mr Brown's envoy to Cyprus.

On Friday, junior whip Siobhain McDonagh was fired for calling for a debate on Gordon Brown's leadership.

Seventy MPs would have to nominate a challenger to Gordon Brown to force a leadership contest.

The Labour Party has told BBC political editor Nick Robinson that nine had so far asked for nomination papers to be issued to all members of the parliamentary party.

But the party's general secretary Ray Collins has rejected the MPs' call - saying that under party rules he is not required to issue the forms.

Brown is unlucky to have taken power when the world economy was collapsing
LJ Hamilton, Glasgow

Former Home Office minister Mr Howarth - who has also signed a magazine article calling on the party to be "bold" - told the BBC he had made his request for nomination papers to be sent out roughly two weeks ago.

Ms Mactaggart said she made her request for the papers to be sent out at the end of August.

'Hard to do'

Several more Labour MPs are expected to air their views in the next few days.

Meanwhile, six former ministers are among 12 Labour MPs who signed the article in Progress magazine calling for a "convincing new narrative" from Labour.

Ms Ryan, MP for Enfield North, told the Today programme she was not part of a plot.

"I know there's a lot of people feel the same way and I know they find it very difficult to openly raise this issue," she said.


"I find it very hard. I'm a loyalist to my government. I have never voted against my government. This is a very hard thing to do.

"But I actually feel now this is the most responsible thing I can do and I would be irresponsible if I didn't now speak up."

Downing Street later said Ms Ryan had been "relieved of her duties" as the prime minister's special representative to Cyprus.

'Error of judgement'

There have also been a string of MPs loyal to Mr Brown dismissing the actions of those calling for a leadership election.

Tony Lloyd, the chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, said he did not know of any great amount of support for Ms Ryan's position.

Fiona Mactaggart - elected 1997, responsibility for the criminal justice system until 2006
Graham Stringer - elected 1997, first to call for Gordon Brown to resign
Joan Ryan - elected 1997, parliamentary under-secretary at Home Office 2006-07
George Howarth - elected 1986, parliamentary roles at Home Office and Northern Ireland, member Privvy Council since 2005
Siobhain McDonagh - elected 1997, ex-PPS to John Reid, and junior whip 2007-08
Gordon Prentice - elected 1992, did not endorse Gordon Brown as party leader
Janet Anderson - elected 1992, former junior whip and ex-under secretary at culture department

"What it does represent is a handful of people who are not joined by the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs," he said.

Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, has also criticised those Labour MPs seeking a leadership contest.

"I think it is an error of judgement," she said.

"I think people would expect the party of government to be focused on taking us through difficult economic times and protecting those at risk."

She said the country would be "dismayed" if the party of government decided to hold an internal election.


Labour MP for Dagenham, John Cruddas, has dismissed the calls for a leadership election as an indulgent sideshow that would do nothing but harm to the party.

Mr Cruddas - who ran for the deputy party leadership last year - said those seeking a challenge to Mr Brown were "delusional".

I believe that those involved in this believe they do not currently have the numbers, but they want to create a momentum
BBC political editor Nick Robinson

And in an interview in the Daily Telegraph, Schools Secretary Ed Balls, one of Gordon Brown's most senior allies, said there was "very little chance" of the prime minister being ousted before the next election.

But the BBC's Nick Robinson said: "I believe that those involved in this believe they do not currently have the numbers, but they want to create a momentum."

He added: "There will be MPs thinking 'is it time for me to move?'"

'New narrative'

The article in Progress said: "Labour needs to provide a convincing new narrative if left-of-centre politics are to remain the driving force in Britain.

Our most urgent task is to renew confidence in our economic competence so that people know that the country will come out of the current downturn with a resilient economy and a cohesive society

Progress article

"This has to be more than a series of policy initiatives. It has to set a new framework for post-credit crunch Britain."

They also said it was an urgent task for the party to "renew confidence in our economic competence", and described recent policies as being "defensive" when the party needed to be "bold".

The article's signatories include former culture minister Janet Anderson, Mr Howarth, former transport ministers Stephen Ladyman and Karen Buck and Paddy Tipping, who was deputy leader of the Commons.

Also putting their name to the article are backbenchers Eric Joyce, Sally Keeble, Martin Linton, Shona McIsaac, Margaret Moran and Tom Levitt.

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