Brown faces by-election blow

VOTING was under way yesterday in a key by-election in northwest England which is expected to deal a fresh blow to Britain’s embattled Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Three weeks after Labour slumped to its worst local poll results in 40 years, Brown could see the Crewe and Nantwich constituency seized by the opposition Conservatives for the first time ever.

The election, called after the death of the sitting Labour member of parliament, is being watched closely as a sign of how far support for the centre-left party has slumped and the extent of the Tory revival.

It is also the first time voters will have a direct say on the government’s compensation package for the low paid, prompted by widespread outrage at its abolition of the lowest rate of income tax in April.

Labour holds a 7,078 majority in the constituency but opinion polls have suggested that there will be a sizeable “swing” to the Tories.

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