Connarty puts post election challenge to Blair
VOTERS in Falkirk once again returned Labour MPs to represent their interests in Westminster.
The General Election threw up no surprises in the two new constituencies of Falkirk and Linlithgow & Falkirk East.
Both Eric Joyce and Michael Connarty were returned with massive majorities to help Labour back into Government for a record-breaking third term.
Mr Joyce polled almost 51 per cent of the votes in Falkirk, while Mr Connarty took around 48 per cent in the new-look Falkirk East, which has now been linked with the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow.
But within moments of being re-elected, Mr Connarty was already challenging Prime Minister Tony Blair and claiming his insistence on pursuing a war in Iraq had caused 47 Labour MPs to lose their seats.
He added Mr Blair should go and threw his weight behind Chancellor Gordon Brown as the next Labour leader.
Mr Connarty said: "We lost out to the Lib Dems due to tactical voting and it's regrettable we no longer have such a strong presence in the north of Scotland.
"Tony Blair has a limited shelf life now. When the leadership went to war with Iraq it damaged the party and undid so much of the good work we had done.
''This issue is in the way and we have to get it out of the way. I would back Gordon Brown for leader – it's at the top of my agenda."
However, he conceded that, overall, it was a good result for Labour, adding: "Who would have thought in the 1980s that we would have been back for three successive terms.
Mr Joyce was more reticent when talking about the party leader, pointing out that the Prime Minister had already indicated he would not be fighting a fourth term.
He said: "Gordon Brown is obviously in a strong position but when anything will happen is beyond my ken. Whatever happens, we have a extremely well qualified successor."
But he urged caution before rushing into a leadership race, pointing out there were some difficult policies to be implemented in the coming months.
Reflecting on his victory, he said: "It's a great result for Labour in Falkirk but, more to the point, it's an indication that people in Falkirk recognise that Labour has done a good job in the last eight years and expect to see more of the same.
"It's very humbling to get such a big vote of confidence."