Brown rocked by Scottish revolt as four candidates turn down his personal pleas to stand in by-election

Gordon Brown was facing humiliation last night after four candidates turned down his personal pleas for them to stand in the key Glasgow East by-election.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Prime Minister asked senior Labour Party loyalists, including Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell, to challenge for the seat in a bid to avoid a damaging defeat, which would almost certainly spark calls for him to quit. But in an embarrassing blow to Brown’s leadership, all refused.

Glasgow Baillieston MSP Margaret Curran has now been parachuted in to head off a concerted SNP campaign to snatch the Westminster seat.

Revolt: The PM pictured in Gateshead on Friday marking the 60th anniversary of the NHS

Revolt: PM Gordon Brown in Gateshead on Friday

Blow: Glasgow Council leader Steven Purcell refused to challenge by-election seat

Blow: Steven Purcell refused to challenge by-election seat

Labour are expected to announce Miss Curran as the official candidate tomorrow.

Mr Purcell, Lesley Quinn – the former general secretary of Scottish Labour – and one other prominent Labour figure received calls last weekend and on Friday night from Mr Brown’s office, urging them to stand. All said no.

Fourth choice, Shettleston councillor George Ryan, unexpectedly pulled out of the race on Friday, citing family reasons.

Last night, opposition politicians said the chaotic selection process had ‘shattered’ Mr Brown’s authority. The SNP described Mr Brown as a tele-salesman ‘reduced to cold calling’ Labour activists begging them to stand.

Mr Brown received a double blow last weekend with the resignation of Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander hours after David Marshall announced he was stepping down as Glasgow East MP amid allegations over his Commons expenses.

A senior Labour source said: ‘Trying to find someone to challenge for the seat has been like pass the parcel. Margaret Curran may offer us a way out of this mess.’

The by-election is due to take place on July 24, with the Nationalists confident of overturning Labour’s 13,500 majority.

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