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Labour defeat a blow for Britain's Gordon Brown

The prime minister faces intense pressure for change after his party lost in a once-safe Scottish constituency.

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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown faced calls Friday for a radical change of direction, including quitting Iraq and returning to more traditional left-wing Labour policies, after he suffered his fourth local election disaster in three months, losing one of the Labour Party's safest seats in a byelection.

Mr. Brown's candidate was trounced in a constituency in Glasgow, Scotland, which, with its working-class credentials and lifelong Labour supporters should have been easy enough to retain even for an unpopular governing party.

Instead, the Scottish National Party (SNP) beat the Labour candidate by 365 votes. The swing away from Labour was such that, if replicated at a general election, Brown himself would lose his seat and barely 20 Labour Members of Parliament (MP) would be left in Parliament. Comparisons are already being made with Margaret Thatcher, ousted by her own acolytes once they thought she had lost the support of the country, and John Major, who was hammered in a 1997 general election after suffering several heavy byelection defeats.

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