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What on earth was Hazel Blears thinking?'

PUBLISHED: 17:04 10 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:49 25 August 2010

Hazel Blears who resigned

Hazel Blears who resigned

BACKBENCH Labour MPs have blasted self-seeking former cabinet ministers who attempted to orchestrate the downfall of the Prime Minister. Erith and Thamesmead MP John Austin and Eltham MP Clive Efford backed Gordon Brown in the face of cabinet resignat

BACKBENCH Labour MPs have blasted 'self-seeking' former cabinet ministers who attempted to orchestrate the downfall of the Prime Minister.

Erith and Thamesmead MP John Austin and Eltham MP Clive Efford backed Gordon Brown in the face of cabinet resignations and dismal European and local election results.

This comes after former minister and Greenwich MP Nick Raynsford claimed the party was facing "total disaster" if they kept Brown as leader.

He said: "If we are looking at a situation of a total disaster facing us then it is not good enough to say more of the same. We have to be radical. We have to think of ways in which we can re-engage with the electorate."

But Mr Austin slammed the Prime Minister's critics saying: "People were angry and disappointed with us and the highly publicised resignations by a handful of self-seeking Ministers on the eve of the election was not helpful.

"The row over MPs expenses has hit Labour harder than the Tories, despite the fact that some of the grosses abuses were on the Tory side, because we are in government.

"The expenses row was not of the government's making. It was a collective failure by the Members of Parliament of all parties and needs collective cross-party agreement to resolve. It is not a party political issue but it is one where the government is blamed by the voters.

"We need a proper debate about the real issues that affect people, jobs, pensions, health, education, the environment, crime.

"Gordon Brown is the best person to lead this country out of the recession and deliver on that agenda and when we come to the General Election when the choice is between that progressive agenda or cuts in services under the Tories, I am convinced we can win."

Mr Efford said the party is going to have to unite around its leader. He said: "It was only a few weeks ago that we had G20 and all the worlds' most powerful leaders were praising Gordon Brown.

"Any party that has a minister walk out the day before an election would be disgusted. What on earth was Hazel Blears thinking?

"Those who resigned were cabinet ministers with dubious expense claims with the possible exception of James Purnell. But he still has issues to answer around his expense claims."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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