Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Saturday, 25 October 2008 14:11 UK

Brown goes for by-election votes

Gordon Brown on who is to blame for the UK's current economic problems

Gordon Brown has hit the campaign trail in a by-election for the first time since becoming prime minister.

Visiting Glenrothes in Fife, next to his own Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath seat, Mr Brown insisted Labour was acting to handle the global economic crisis.

The SNP hit out over rising energy bills, the Tories said Mr Brown had turned boom to bust and the Lib Dems campaigned on racism.

Labour will be defending a majority of 10,500 in the poll on 6 November.

Because of the work we have done over these last 10 years we are better prepared to deal with what is a world financial problem
Gordon Brown
Prime Minister
In the past Mr Brown has refused to campaign in by-elections in his role as prime minister.

But breaking the convention, he dismissed criticisms that the visit was a sign of Labour desperation.

He said: "I wanted to come and explain to people what we are doing in this global financial crisis to make sure people are properly protected.

"We are doing more to help homeowners, we are doing more to help pensioners with their fuel bills by raising the winter allowance.

"We are doing more to help people that have had problems with their jobs by trying to make vacancies available for people looking for work."

Mr Brown said there had been 10 years of good economic growth.

"Because of the work we have done over these last 10 years we are better prepared to deal with what is a world financial problem that's hitting every country," he said.

Morag Balfour, Scottish Socialists
Maurice Golden, Conservative
Peter Grant, SNP
Lindsay Roy Labour
Kris Seunarine, UKIP
Harry Wills, Liberal Democrats
Louise McLeary, Solidarity
Jim Parker, Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party

The prime minister also stressed his strong support for the Union.

He added: "I think what people want at the moment is everyone to come together, and get through this time fairly. And they want people to work together."

The by-election comes in the shadow of the SNP's victory in Glasgow East, a seat in which Labour had a larger majority than it does in Glenrothes.

Mr Brown's wife Sarah visited the constituency earlier this week.

Mr Salmond, the leader of the SNP, is making his seventh by-election campaigning visit on Saturday.

He met an SNP supporter whose name is also Gordon Brown.

The first minister said: "Unlike the prime minister this Gordon Brown has a vote on November 6th and can use it, by voting SNP, to send a message from his street to Downing Street that it's time for action on energy prices.

Alex Salmond and Gordon Brown
Alex Salmond met an SNP-supporting voter called Gordon Brown
"What appears to have escaped the prime minister's attention is that while he basks in press plaudits, gas and electricity bills are thudding through the letterboxes of Fife with rises of up to 40%. They need to be reduced."

The Conservative candidate met local voters in the Kingdom Centre along with Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie.

Ms Goldie said: "The real economy has been hit hard - this is not the time to reward Gordon Brown for turning boom into bust. We need to repair Britain's economy.

"This is not the time to stamp Alex Salmond's independence passport - we are stronger together and would be weaker apart. Scotland has had enough of the SNP's government by grievance."

And the Liberal Democrat candidate was heading to watch East Fife take on Arbroath in Methil with the party's Scottish leader Tavish Scott, where they campaigned on racism.

Mr Scott said: "Racism in football is totally unacceptable. We should all work on a cross-party basis to drive it from the game and from Scotland."

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