Bad luck for Brown as fightback is overshadowed by car crash

GORDON Brown's bid for re-election lurched from one accident to another today as a major Labour poster launch was overshadowed by a car smash just yards from the Prime Minister.

As some of the most senior members of the Cabinet gathered in a Birmingham car park to unveil the party's last-ditch publicity drive, a Volkswagen Golf careered off the road and into a bus shelter.

The car's screeching and the noise from the impact was heard above the Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, as he was talking about Labour's commitment to "protecting our frontline services".

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He kept talking, and was followed by the Prime Minister, but most of the attendant media had rushed to the nearby scene, where 27-year-old Labour voter Omed Rashid was climbing from the wreckage.

The driver escaped uninjured, but Mr Brown's latest effort to salvage Labour's campaign for a fourth consecutive term bore more than a passing resemblance to Mr Rashid's green hatchback, impaled on a bus-stop.

The chaotic events come after the Prime Minister's disastrous comments about Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy on Wednesday, when he was overheard calling her "bigoted".

Asked later whether the car crash was a metaphor for the Labour campaign, Lord Mandelson answered: "No."

Witnesses said the Golf was clipped by a refuse truck whose occupants had been jeering at Labour from Hockley Circus, which they and Mr Rashid had been rounding as the accident occurred.