The result of the Norwich North by-election – with a huge swing to the Tories, who now have a majority of more than 7,000 – has not only humiliated the Labour Party but triggered serious internal friction.
The by-election was caused by the resignation of Dr. Ian Gibson after he was effectively deselected by the 'star-chamber' of the Labour NEC. If Gibson had not been targeted by the star-chamber, an election would not have been called and Labour would still hold their North Norwich seat. Conflict in the party comes as a result of Gibson being ‘targeted’ after the expenses scandal. There has been a longstanding tension between Gordon Brown and Ian Gibson, as such it is not surprising that Ian Gibson was one of only five Labour MPs referred to the Star Chamber regarding expenses. More high profile members, such as Hazel Blears and Jacqui Smith, were spared the star-chamber treatment so as to retain an image of party unity. It is fairly evident that Gibson was initially used as cannon-fodder by the party to create an imagine that they would not stand for expenses corruption. Gibson trumped Brown by resigning, leaving the party with even more serious problems.
The Labour party now faces a crisis. They could be facing a historical downfall with little prospect of recovery. If they enter the next election with the possibility of coming third, any support they currently have will be sapped. This does not necessarily need to happen. Cameron is not on the home stretch yet, and elections have an uncanny way of throwing up surprises when they’re least expected. But as things stand, the Labour Party is a sinking ship and Gordon brown is acting as one hell of an anchor.