The British Prime Minister has ruled out calling an early general election, ending weeks of speculation. Opposition parties say it is an “embarrassing defeat” after Labour’s poor showing in the polls last week. But Gordon Brown says that is not the reason why he wants to wait.
He said: “I’ll not be calling an election and let me explain why. I have a vision for change in Britain. I want to show people how in government we are implementing it. Over the summer months we have had to deal with crises. We have had to deal with foot and mouth, terrorism, floods, the financial crisis. Yes, we could have had an election on competence and I hope people would have understood that we have acted competently. But what I want to do is show people the vision that we have for the future of this country: in housing, health, education. I want the chance in the next phase of my premiership to develop and show people the policies that will make a huge difference and show the change in the country itself.”
But with polls today showing Brown would lose his majority if a vote were held now, opposition Conservative leader David Cameron says Brown is running scared. “I think the prime minister has shown great weakness and indecision,” he said. “It’s quite clear he’s not been focussed on running the country these last few months, he’s been trying to spin his way into a general election campaign and now he’s had to make a humiliating retreat.”
Downing Street sources say Labour needs to strengthen its vote in around 100 marginal constituencies before going to the polls and Brown’s decision means an election next year is unlikely, except in “exceptional circumstances”. Under British parliamentary rules he has until 2010 to go the country to seek a new mandate.