Page last updated at 09:41 GMT, Sunday, 26 July 2009 10:41 UK

Labour can win election - Darling

Alistair Darling: 'There is a fight to be had'

Chancellor Alistair Darling has said he believes Labour "can and will win" the next election - but said Labour had to "come out fighting" after the summer.

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show he was not a natural optimist but was confident despite Labour's heavy defeat in this week's by-election.

Earlier Gordon Brown appealed for the party to show it was united.

Tory leader David Cameron told the same programme the scale of the "economic mess" was "incredibly daunting".

He said that while no-one in his party was complacent they were drawing up plans to sort out the economy which would see everyone "paying their fair share".

Mr Darling said: "Whoever wins the next election will shape the destiny of this country - not just for the next five years, beyond that... I believe that we can win and we will win, but we really do need to come out fighting."

Asked by the presenter "even under Gordon Brown?", Mr Darling replied: "Yes, absolutely."

'Incompetent'

The prime minister's appeal for discipline in the Labour Party came after some MPs attacked him over its by-election defeat in Norwich North.

Mr Brown told the Sunday Mirror the party had to work hard over the summer to show it was disciplined and capable of running the country.

Some senior Labour MPs have said Mr Brown was directly responsibility for the crushing defeat by the Tories.

Chloe Smith, 27, reversed a comfortable Labour majority to win by 7,348 votes.

Mr Brown told the Sunday Mirror: "We've got to show that we are a disciplined party getting on with the work of government.

It's important you understand you have got to spend time with your children
Gordon Brown

"I think people are very clear that we've got a task ahead. We've got work to do to prepare for the autumn."

The by-election saw a swing from Labour to the Tories of 16.5% as they garnered more than 13,500 votes.

A repeat in a general election would bring the Conservatives to Number 10 with a majority of more than 200 seats in the Commons.

Mr Brown's comments came amid renewed concerns about his leadership among Labour backbenchers, who said he had until the party conference season in September to demonstrate he was up to the job.

Ex-home secretary Charles Clarke blamed the Norwich North result on Mr Brown's "incompetent" treatment of outgoing MP Dr Ian Gibson.

Summer break

Senior backbencher Barry Sheerman said the result was a "self-inflicted wound" and warned Mr Brown had until the end of the summer to reconnect with voters.

Left-winger John McDonnell said the prime minister had made a "terrible miscalculation" in his handling of the episode.

And fellow Labour backbencher, Kate Hoey, told the BBC Mr Brown needed to re-examine his leadership techniques.

She said: "By-elections are always unique but there is no doubt about it that this is a bad result."

During his interview with the Sunday Mirror, Mr Brown also said he intended to spend more time with his children during the summer break from Westminster.

He said: "If you are away for a week you notice how your children change and you have got to re-win their interest. It's important you understand you have got to spend time with your children."

However Mr Brown also stressed that he would remain focused on the needs of the country.



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SEE ALSO
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