British Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces a fresh test of Labour's fading popularity after the death on Wednesday of a Scottish member of parliament.
John MacDougall, MP for Glenrothes in Fife, eastern Scotland, died in hospital aged 60 after a long illness.
Brown paid tribute to MacDougall, a former leader of Fife Council, who he said was a "true servant of the people" as well as being a personal friend for three decades.
A by-election will now be fought for what should be a safe Labour seat, bordering Brown's own Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency.
MacDougall, who worked as a boilermaker and a union shop steward, won the seat with a 10,664 majority at the 2005 general election.
But the contest will follow a string of recent election setbacks for Labour that have fuelled speculation about a challenge to Brown's 14-month tenure as party leader.
The pro-independence Scottish National Party will be keen to repeat their shock success in last month's Glasgow East by-election.
There, the SNP overturned a 13,507 Labour majority on a massive 22 percent swing, enough to eject Brown from his own seat if repeated in a general election.
The defeat came after Labour received a drubbing in local council elections in May, lost another safe seat in Crewe in northern England three weeks later and came a humiliating fifth in the affluent seat of Henley-on-Thames the following month.
Opinion polls suggest David Cameron's Conservatives are on course for a landslide victory at the next general election, which Brown must call by May 2010.
Last Mod: 13 Ağustos 2008, 14:32