MPs vote against early General Election

The motion put forward by MPs from the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru has been rejected by 340 votes to 268. The SNP claimed that the Government has lost authority and that an election is needed immediately, in a debate scheduled prior to Gordon Brown's troubles last week when it looked as though he might be about to face a leadership challenge. However, since then he has extensively reshuffled the Cabinet, surrounding himself with loyal ministers, and now looks much more secure.

Peter Hain, the Welsh Secretary, stated his belief that an early Election would be liable to trigger instability - anybody could be forgiven for wondering just how much more unstable the Government could possibly get in the wake of last week's disastrous election results and with MP's reputations at an all-time low amongst the voters.

Angus Robertson, Westminster leader of the SNP, led today's motion to bring about an early General Election. If you really want to, you can see what he has to say about the motion's defeat by following him on Twitter.

Shadow Foreign Secretary and ex-leader of the Conservatives William Hague claimed that the British public should be given an opportunity to decide their country's future - though being a member of the opposition, he would say that at a time when the Tories are doing rather better in opinion polls than Labour - and said "that is what the country wants, that it what our democracy needs." He may have done so for his own cynical and self-interested reasons, safe in the knowledge that were an election to be held right now his party would almost certainly win by a respectable margin, but he's also right. According to a Daily Mail poll, 91% of the public support an immediate ballot (though whether or not Mail readers are representative of the general public as a whole is debatable, of course).

Meanwhile, David Heath of the LibDems agrees. "We need to give the public an opportunity to back or sack every single one of us," he says. Angus Robertson (claimed £80,000 for his second home, just so you know), the SNP's leader in the Commons, says that "we need an election to rebuild confidence in UK economic policy."

Labour MPs say that the election must wait while Prime Minister Brown's proposed reforms go ahead as they desperately try to cling on to power, fully aware that they would be unlikely to do any better in a General Election than they did in the recent council and European votes. Surely it should be up to us to decide?

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