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BATTERED BROWN QUELLS REBELLION

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown last night appeared to have staved off a full-blown rebellion, despite a stormy meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) where he faced calls to stand aside.<br /><br />Speaking just hours after Labour suffered its worst humiliation in a national election for decades, with its share of the popular vote dwindling to 15.7 per cent, Brown delivered a heartfelt speech acknowledging his flaws and reaching out to an increasingly disgruntled party.<br /><br />After entering the room accompanied by cheering and applause, the Prime Minister went on to admit that &ldquo;there are some things I do well, some things not so well&rdquo;, before admitting that he should be more inclusive of minority party voices.<br /><br />In a meeting that was packed to the rafters, Brown appeared determined to cast off his authoritarian image by appealing to the wider party. <br /><br />But some critics said that parts of the meeting had been staged by spin doctors and party whips, with a series of Labour veterans such as David Blunkett and Sir Gerald Kaufman lining up to heap praise on the Prime Minister.<br /><br />And even as Brown was enjoying the moment, a poll emerged showing that a Labour party led by new home secretary Alan Johnson would grab 26 per cent of the vote, denying the Conservatives an outright Commons majority by just six MPs.<br /><br />The PLP meeting also proved to be a platform for some of Brown&rsquo;s fiercest critics.<br /><br />Former home secretary Charles Clarke led calls for Brown to step aside, backed up by former trade secretary Stephen Byers, ex-transport minister Tom Harris and former whip Siobhain McDonagh.<br /><br />But despite yesterday&rsquo;s resignation by farming minister Jane Kennedy, who claimed that the public was &ldquo;rejecting&rdquo; the Labour party as a result of Brown&rsquo;s leadership, the rebellion failed to gather momentum at the PLP meeting.<br /><br />The support for Brown came despite Labour&rsquo;s disastrous result in the European elections, in which many of the government&rsquo;s natural voters in Yorkshire &amp; Humber and the North West turned to the British National Party, which won two seats in the European parliament.