Glenrothes by-election no longer make or break for Gordon Brown

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Just a few weeks ago, in the carefree days before the banking sector found itself on the brink of collapse, when Ruth Kelly was still a minister and David Miliband was seen as a sensible choice for Labour leader, the Glenrothes by-election was endlessly reported as “make or break” for the Prime Minister.

The perceived wisdom was that Gordon Brown’s tenure in No 10 could be cut short if Labour suffered a second by-election defeat at the hands of the Scottish Nationalists.

After the loss of Glasgow East, the pundits questioned whether an unpopular Scottish Prime Minister who was trailing up to 20% behind the Tories in the polls would ever be able to recover from a second trouncing in his own backyard.

The Nationalists won Glasgow East in a by-election in July from Labour, overturning a majority of more than 13,000.

But a month, as everyone knows, is a lifetime in politics.

The economic turbulence, the boldness with which the government tackled the crisis and the inability of David Cameron or George Osborne to gain any sort of meaningful purchase on events saw their lead in the opinion polls slashed to single digits.

Gordon Brown was being hailed the world over as the savior of capitalism, and suddenly, in the face of economic meltdown, the Glenrothes by-election paled into insignificance.

There is a good chance Labour may hold the seat today, which became vacant after the death of John MacDougall, who had a majority of 10,000 in the seat.

The Prime Minister’s wife Sarah has popped across from his bordering Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency on several occasions to rally support and Mr Brown has visited twice.

The economic crisis has taken some of the shine off the SNP, with voters north of the border questioning if an independent Scotland could have funded a bailout as large as that put together in London.

The Tories are nowhere in this constituency, as in most of Scotland, and the Lib Dems are unlikely to get a look in either.

We will know the results tomorrow morning – but one thing is for certain.

If Labour lose the constituency next door to the Prime Minister’s own, it will have no effect on his tenure in Downing St.