Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman later declined to predict that their party will regain the Norwich North seat lost to Tory Chloe Smith in the by-election last July.
Ian Gibson secured a majority of over 5000 in the seat for Labour in the 2005 general election. The constituency has since been made more favourable to the party by boundary changes. But Ms Harman rejected three opportunities, in an interview with the EDP, to say that Labour was confident of overturning Ms Smith's 7438 by-election majority and re-capturing the seat. It was not for her “to second-guess” the local electorate, she said.
This surprised Norwich South MP Charles Clarke, who said that in his opinion, Labour did have “a good chance” of regaining the seat.
Asked if Labour's campaigning in Norwich and Norfolk could be hindered by Mr Clarke's often expressed adverse criticism of the prime minister, Ms Harman replied: “Charles recognises that the Labour Party has made its choice, and that it is 100pc behind Gordon. Charles accepts that, is a Labour man, and doesn't want to see Cameron in No 10.”
Mr Clarke, the former home secretary, confirmed this in saying that “in a choice between Gordon Brown and David Cameron running the economy, Gordon wins by a mile”. But he added: “It doesn't mean I think I was wrong in saying Labour's chances would be better under another leader.”
This is another example of Labour cock up. Fisher had expected to be called by Ed Balls, who is familiar with the Norfolk political landscape and is often seen in Norwich, supporting the Canaries at Carrow Road. Balls, however, was too busy so the phone call was left to Harman. I suspect the Norwich North Labour candidate will be spitting feathers at how his campaign has been undermined by Ms Harman.
Chloe Smith, on the other hand, will be gruntled.